Taiwan firm eyes wider market for its protective air travel gear

TAIPEI, Nov 19 (Reuters) - As Asians travellers tentatively return to the skies amid the coronavirus pandemic, some are choosing to wear special suits covering much of their body to protect them against the virus.

One Taiwanese company manufacturing such outfits, BenQ Materials Corp, displayed its version on board a “flight to nowhere” along the island’s east coast on Thursday, and its chairman wants to promote them beyond the Asian market.

“We’re using this to promote these goods to the whole world, not just Taiwan,” company Chairman Z.C. Chen told Reuters at Taipei’s Songshan airport, where the two-hour flight operated by China Airlines Ltd took off and landed.

“People still need to travel, whether for business or when lockdowns are lifted in the future.”

BenQ’s raincoat-like suits are designed to shield travellers as much as possible, sealing around the wrists and waist and including a closely-fitted hood over which a face mask can we worn.

Global airline passenger numbers have collapsed during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Many countries have closed borders, with people fearful of travelling in any case due to concerns they may get infected at the airport or on board flights.

Airlines and airports have unveiled a raft of measures to reassure people, including regularly deep-cleaning aircraft.

Some airlines, including Taiwanese carriers, have been putting on “flights to nowhere”, giving travel-starved passengers the chance to experience airline flying even though they start from and end at the same destination. (Reporting by Ann Wang; Writing by Ben Blanchard; Editing by Mike Collett-White)