Channel NewsAsia

TransAsia Airways' profile

TransAsia Airways, which was Taiwan's first private airline in 1951, is now Taiwan's third-biggest airline by fleet-size, after China Airlines and Eva Airways.

KAOHSIUNG: Founded in 1951, TransAsia Airways was Taiwan's first private airline. It started with just eight European-made ATR-72 aircraft, built through a joint-venture with the Airbus Group.

Today, it is Taiwan's third-biggest airline by fleet-size, after China Airlines and Eva Airways. It is one of three airlines that flies daily to Penghu Island - a popular tourist destination.

TransAsia Airways flies mostly on domestic routes, but has some international flights, including to China, Japan and Singapore.

Website gives the airline a safety rating of six out of seven.

According to Taiwan's Aviation Safety Council, TransAsia has had eight accidents since 2002, with 49 people killed - this includes the 48 passengers in the latest crash.

The cause of Wednesday's crash is still unknown. But investigators from the Aviation Safety Council are examining all possibilities, including weather, mechanical failure and human error.

Taiwanese officials have defended the decision to allow flight GE222 to take-off that fateful day. They said weather conditions were within acceptable limits.

The route between Kaohsiung and Penghu has experienced some 13 airplane accidents since the route was started, with 350 people killed. But Taiwan's major airlines have made improvements in safety, after several fatal crashes in the 1990s and early 2000s.

Wednesday's crash is likely to deal a blow to TransAsia's expansion plans. The airline had planned to launch the island's first low-cost airline this year.

TransAsia could also be suspended for 12 months from applying for new international routes, including the lucrative cross-strait sector.

Listed on the Taiwan stock exchange, TransAsia shares fell 5.5 per cent on news of the crash, but has since made a modest recovery. 

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