Back in October this year, Taiwan reopened its borders to foreign tourists and returning residents without quarantine and with no vaccination requirements, having maintained strict border controls for two and a half years during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The latest process to enter the country is a straightforward one, with travellers simply handed four free COVID-19 rapid antigen test kits on arrival at the airport, which they are then expected to use to obtain a negative result before leaving their accommodation for the first time, and every 48 hours thereafter, during the subsequent seven days.
Reporting of the results is not required, so it’s effectively an ‘honour system’.
Arrivals cap to be increased
When Taiwan first reopened its borders in October, the weekly international arrivals cap was raised from 60,000 to 150,000, or around 21,000 per day.
The cap itself isn’t really anything for travellers to worry about, it is controlled by limiting flight volumes and seat capacity the airlines can sell on inbound international services.
In other words if you’ve already got a confirmed ticket on a flight to Taiwan, you’re in!
Of course the negative aspects of the cap are that airlines cannot necessarily fly all the flights they wish to into Taiwan, or perhaps sell all the seat capacity on every service they do operate, leading to less choice for travellers, higher fares than usual, and restricted award availability.
The good news is that Taiwan’s Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) has now announced that from 1st December 2022, the country will hike its overseas traveller arrivals cap by a third, from 150,000 to 200,000, which should lead to more international flight options.
This increase to the cap of 50,000 per week is equivalent to over 7,000 additional inbound international passengers per day from next month, which should see airlines able to sell more seats on existing flights, and even increase their schedules.
Prior to COVID-19, Taiwan typically welcomed 500,000 international arriving passengers per week, so the latest cap will allow restoration of around 40% of pre-pandemic arrival volumes.
According to the CECC, international arrivals to Taiwan reached 92,000 for the week commencing 7th November 2022, and are expected to rise further as the Christmas, New Year and Lunar New Year holidays approach, leading to this increase in the quota.
Taiwan entry process
Here’s a reminder of the process you’ll follow when travelling to Taiwan from Singapore or any other country.
Travel to Taiwan
|Eligibility & Vaccination|
|COVID-19 Tests (travellers aged 2+)|
|Restrictions (first 7 days)|
Mask wearing set to be relaxed
Despite reopening its borders, Taiwan retains a strict mask-wearing mandate both indoors and outdoors in public.
Deputy Minister of Health and Welfare Victor Wang, who heads up the CECC, said at a press briefing on Monday that the country plans to ease its mask policy gradually, with the first phase of this relaxation related to outdoor settings due to be announced as early as next week.
Planning has already begun for a second stage of mask-wearing relaxations after that, which will see face coverings required only in designated places, like in hospitals and on public transport.
This comes as Taiwan’s daily new COVID-19 case numbers have dropped below 20,000, one of the key conditions for easing mask rules.
At the last update on 14th November, Taiwan recorded 16,619 new COVID-19 cases, only 41 of which (0.2%) were imported.
Despite maintaining strict mask-wearing rules for the moment, there is no mask mandate when travelling by air to or from Taiwan, with Singapore Airlines and Scoot now mask-optional on these services.
Starlux, China Airlines and EVA Air all still require masks to be worn onboard when not eating or drinking, according to guidelines stated on their respective websites at the time of writing.
Singapore – Taiwan flights
Based on schedules in January 2020, there were around 24,000 passenger seats per week offered by five airlines from Singapore to Taiwan, including to Taipei and Kaohsiung.
For the first week in December 2022, around 18,600 seats are on offer, already 78% of pre-COVID volumes.
This follows the recent restoration of a second daily flight by China Airlines, who will offer both an afternoon and overnight service to Taipei from 1st December 2022, making it the carrier to have restored the most capacity between these countries compared to pre-pandemic times.
Singapore – Taipei
(2022 vs. 2020)
|Airline||Weekly Seat Capacity from SIN|
|Jan 2020||Dec 2022||Change|
In terms of Singapore-based carriers, currently SIA offers a daily Boeing 787-10 service to and from Taipei, alternating between SQ876/877 and SQ878/879 flights on different days.
Scoot has a far greater presence on the route, with 15 weekly flights using Boeing 787-8 and 787-9 aircraft, all of which continue to either Tokyo, Sapporo or Seoul.
Jetstar has yet to return to the Singapore – Taipei market, having offered 11 services per week on the route prior to the pandemic, with 180-seat Airbus A320s.
Aside from Jetstar, as you can see from the table it’s Singapore Airlines that is currently taking the biggest capacity cut on Taipei flights compared to pre-COVID, so we wouldn’t be surprised to see increasing arrival caps lead to a restoration to twice daily Boeing 787-10 flights by the carrier in the months ahead.
We will also be keen to see whether Starlux’s new Airbus A350 cabins make an appearance on the route in early 2023, ahead of long-haul services between Taipei and Los Angeles from April, since these sport the boutique carrier’s latest cabin products, including a First Class row and privacy doors in Business Class.
Meanwhile the carrier operates its Airbus A330-900neo on Singapore flights, which already offers direct aisle access flat-bed seats in Business Class.
Redeeming KrisFlyer miles to Taiwan
Here are the award redemption rates using KrisFlyer miles to redeem on EVA Air flights (Star Award) or Singapore Airlines flights on the Singapore – Taipei route.
|KrisFlyer Saver Redemption Rates
SIN to/from TPE
* Premium Economy is not currently offered on SIA’s Singapore – Taipei route, but it has been in the past and could therefore make a comeback.
With only one daily flight currently on offer, Saver award space in Business Class on Singapore Airlines is very hard to secure in the coming months, with many periods seeing only waitlist Advantage rates.
When you redeem KrisFlyer miles for SIA flights on the Singapore – Taipei route, taxes and fees of S$59.20 are payable.
If you lock in an EVA Air award, you’ll pay S$189.20 on top of your miles outlay, due to the carrier’s hefty fuel surcharge.
Taiwan relaxed its strict border policy in October this year, and is already seeing over 90,000 weekly international arrivals, close to 20% of pre-COVID levels.
Despite the current weekly arrival cap of 150,000 not yet being reached, authorities there are already staying one step ahead of the curve and increasing the quota by a third to 200,000 from 1st December 2022, to account for increased travel demand over the coming festive season.
This will hopefully also allow more international flights to be added, with China Airlines recently doubling down on its Singapore – Taipei services.
Hopefully we will see increased schedules from Singapore Airlines on the Taipei route soon, with the carrier still only offering half its pre-COVID capacity, making KrisFlyer Business Class Saver awards proving hard to come by in the months ahead.
Trips to Taiwan are also set to become less onerous in terms of mask-wearing requirements, with a removal of the mandate expected for outdoor settings as early as next week, and further relaxations in the pipeline.
(Cover Photo: Shutterstock)