Niu Fu-Air is now Taiwan’s newest airline

Written by Staff Writer

This story has been updated

Niu Fu-chang, 31, is practically a veteran of the Taiwanese aviation industry.

The chairman of Taiwan’s fledgling airline Niu Fu-Air — which officially began flying last month — was on board Air China Flight 759 from Beijing to Macau last week, where he said the flight was delayed for more than half an hour due to an unexpected problem.

Luckily, he figured out that the fault lay with the navigation system in the plane’s aircraft.

With the help of Air China, Nufu Fu-Air found the system and restored its service.

Slimmer and younger

While in Beijing for that particular flight, Nufu Fu-Air (which means “crest and sky” in Chinese) became one of several companies to be awarded a safety and security pilot certificate.

But the airline industry has changed since Nufu Fu-Air first got into it in 1998.

Airbus A320

The company has lost its oldest and largest aircraft — an A300 made by Airbus, for which it originally rented equipment, and is now trying to acquire a brand new and more fuel-efficient Boeing 737 for its fleet.

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However, before that, the company sold its engineering capabilities to An Airlines, a Taiwanese subsidiary of Singapore Airlines, which is now its primary owner. The airline never re-launched its own plane design and development service, as planned.

Niu Fu-Air did manage to carry out a restructured training program for cabin crew and pilots after An Airlines took over, Nufu Fu-Air’s current chairman explained.

Niu Fu-Air’s new aircraft. Natasha Quijano

Despite the original enterprise’s difficulties, Nufu Fu-Air has managed to get a foothold in the aviation market.

Niu Fu-Air announced its plan to float an initial public offering earlier this year and this month, in an effort to seek further financing, it received investors who helped fund its majority acquisition of Shenzhen-based Longstick Aviation, which transports more than 70,000 passengers every month across southern China.

“In the past, there wasn’t much money in the aviation business,” Nufu Fu-Air’s CEO, Chen Po-yi, told CNN. “But now there’s more money because more people are willing to invest in the aviation industry.”

Though he’s still not happy with the negative press, Chen pointed out that the company “needs capital for strategic growth.”

Tan Lo-jie, an analyst at Basis Point Hong Kong, commented that the company’s service has received high marks from customers.

He said that the debut flight of the airline is mostly aimed at “to catch up with the competition.”

“Although Shenzhen is one of the world’s leading manufacturing hubs, Shenzhen-based Longstick has a relatively small domestic network.”

On its maiden flight, the airline transported around 220 passengers, mostly businessmen and students visiting Shenzhen and Shenzhen-based companies.

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As the airline continues to expand, more aircraft are expected to arrive on the aircraft’s orders.

“We’ve already signed for 10 new airplanes this year,” Chen told CNN.

“On the future, our plans are to buy up to 40 new planes.”

As the airline’s second largest shareholder, An Airlines looks to keep expanding its position in the airline industry as it seeks to explore new markets — and flights — across southeast Asia.

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