It has been many years since I last visited Taiwan – so many in fact that it was principally known as Formosa way back when I last landed there more than 40 years ago. At the time I was working for a cargo carrier with contracts all over the world – particularly in far-flung places where the major freight haulers preferred not to go.
And for good reason. Many of those remote airports were in what were then called third-world countries, with politically unstable governments and inadequate and even unsafe airport facilities.
That was largely true of Taiwan’s airport way back then. In those days, not only was the airport itself in disrepair but the best that could be said of any of the ramp equipment was that it was worn and shoddy. And that’s the best that could be said.
But that is all a thing of the past. Today, Taipei’s new international airport – actually called Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport and located just outside the city of Taipei – is as modern an airport as you would find anywhere in the world. And more modern than many I could name in the Western world.
Spending some time this weekend observing ramp operations, it was clearly as efficient as any in the world – and probably more so than many in the U.S. just by virtue of the number of personnel available. Yes, as I’ve noted many times, bodies make a difference when it comes to a smooth and efficient ground operation. And where the ground equipment had once been rickety and worn, now it was new and, if not gleaming, certainly close to it.