Thursday, June 02, 2011



By Kevin Stoda

Last week, I flew to Taipei from Beigan Island on UNI AIR, which is an airline-monopoly in the Matsu region.

As is typical, my plane arrived 2 hours late (despite relatively clear skies) because—austensibly—the regular plane needed to be repaired at the last minute. No offer of reimbursement nor discount on future flights were made to the passengers by UNI AIR, i.e. the local-monopoly carrier. Worse still one unscheduled plane (possibly an UNI Charter plane) arrived right behind this same 2-hour-late flight on the same runway—proving that UNI has more than one plane ready to fly at a moment’s notice.

What a cruel joke for the local Matsu Islands’ residents and Taiwan Island bound passengers?

This sort of treatment by the wealthy owners of UNI AIR all happens regularly here —i.e. delayed flights, canceled flights [1], lack of communication with passengers, lack of any customer accountability, etc. UNI AIR uses every imaginable excuse they can cook up to explain the incompetence to the local Matsu consumer and to the thousands of the visitors touring the islands.

By the way, the most common claim is that bad weather closes down flights—at something of a rate of up to 25% of all 9 daily flights scheduled in-and-to the Matsu peninsula for 9 months of the year.

UNI AIR, by the way, is a subsidiary of EvA Air.. Eva Air is Taiwan’s prestige national carrier. Eva recently settled price-fixing case with the USA’s anti-trust division through the paying of a 13.2 million dollar settlement.

I wonder when someone in Matsu withl, like the local and national governmental tourist boards, will get up the gumption to file a claim or an anti-trust lawsuit here in Taiwanese courts against both UNI AIR and Eva Air.

(Oh, well, consumers are not considered important in the big picture of Eva and UNI Air.) One final note! Because UNI AIR is owned by Eva Air, I should—according to EVA Air and UNI Air representatives in Taipei--be able to collect mileage through Eva Air through Eva’s EVERGREEN PARTNERS’ mileage program.

However, for nearly 6 months Eva Air has refused to send me mileage number or an Eva EVERGREEN PARTNERS’ mileage program card with such a number. I first applied online for the card in December. Then a month or so later in early 2011, I applied by post. I am still waiting. (I have had to fly with UNI AIR to-and-from the Matsu Islands 10 times in the interim.)

Could it be that Eva is afraid to have me as regular customer? You see, I wrote the following about Eva some 5 months ago: “Dear Eva, Why do you let UNI AIR mistreat Matsu Island passengers?” [2]

Is Eva Air a vindictive company?—and afraid of American consumers?


[1] Stoda, Kevin “UNI AIR is demonstrating how monopolies in Confucian economies do not always produce high quality service”

[2] “Dear Eva, Why do you let UNI AIR mistreat Matsu Island passengers?”,

Here was the content of a letter I had written to Eva:

Dear Eva Airways,
I have to ask you to consider ways to help (1) tourism in the Matsu Islands and (2) the residents of the Matsu Archipelago to get better treatment and assistance from UNI-Airlines (a major partner of yours in Taiwan). EVA’s investment here is important.
UNI AIR, financed largely with EVA investment, has a monopoly in the Matsu Islands. Meanwhile, the nascent tourism industry needs much more support than UNI AIR is currently willing to provide. In fact, UNI AIR’s erratic performance as a service company and transportation company in the Matus Islands makes it untrustworthy locally as a supporter of Matsu’s developmental future.
As you know, life in Matsu is changing. The military is no longer controlling most all of the local economy—as it once did–and new reasons for existence are being discovered created, and promoted in the Matsu islands. I like it here and have considered working and living here long-term. This is why I am saddened by the way Matsu residents, visitors, and tourists are treated by UNI AIR.
I wrote in my online blogs over two weeks ago about the treatment (or mistreatment) of my family by UNI AIR here on Beigan Island. I know that my family’s sad story is not a singular one. Almost every resident in Nangancan tell of horror stories and delays/cancellations. (In my case, however, the ongoing mistreatment of my household’s finances due to UNI AIR’s stubbornness in not compensating us for our financial losses caused directly by un-notified trip cancellations in December 2011 is worth investigating yourself.)
EVA Air, I turn to you because you are a major stakeholder in UNI AIR, which holds the monopoly on Matsu Island flights. (There can be 10 flights a day to the two major islands of Nangan and Beigan.)
Matsu’s tourism industry would very much benefit from more trustworthy departure and arrival times, but UNI AIR is not providing it.
This sad situation in the monopolistic transport sector here leaves mostly-only room for retired visitors—i.e. people with lots of time on their hands—to come to Matsu. Very few young people come here and consider staying. People with families—i.e. with kids in school in Taiwan—can hardly make the trip to Matsu on a weekend if the airlines are not trustworthy.
The only way to reverse these developmental negative trends is to make a 5 to 10 year commitment to have more competition and better service to and from the Matsu Islands. Perhaps EVA could invest in hotel rooms and (even raise &) diversify the standards of clientele who come to relax and visit here.
Unlike UNI AIR’s tainted-reputation here on the Matsu Islands, EVA Air has been improving its reputation internationally.
Alas, since UNI AIR is the major Taiwanese feeder airline (and major feeder airline) for EVA Air, only you (EVA AIR) have the power to tell UNI AIR to improve its relationship with the minority language peoples of the Matsu Islands. Plesee create a better plan for connecting Matsu with Taiwan and the rest of the world. (A flight into china would certainly help but other projects of improving service and tourist infrastructure are good steps, too.)
Kevin Anthony Stoda, English Teacher
Ban Li Elementary School
No. 59, Ban Li Village
Beigan Township
Lienchiang 210
Phone 0836-55222
Fax: 0836-55070



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