Fri, Dec 20, 2002 - Page 11 News List

Taiwan's airlines free to talk to Chinese carriers

FREE REIN While the government gave airlines the go-ahead earlier this month for Lunar New Year charter flights to Shanghai, no carriers have applied to operate them

CNA , TAIPEI

Taiwan's air carriers are free to talk with their Chinese counterparts about Lunar New Year chartered flights across the Taiwan Strait as they have nothing to do with the issue of sovereignty, a government official said yesterday.

Lee Long-wen (李龍文), director of the Department of Navigation and Aviation under the Ministry of Transportation and Communications, made the remarks in response to a report a day earlier that Pu Zhaozhou (浦照洲), director of the Taiwan, Hong Kong and Macau Office under the Beijing-based Civil Aviation Administration of China, has been pushing for talks between private air carriers across the Taiwan Strait.

Taiwanese carriers can talk about flight schedules, paperwork regarding airports and other matters with their Chinese counterparts to accelerate the process, Lee said.

Although the Executive Yuan gave the green light to Taiwanese carriers on Dec. 4, none of Taiwan's airlines had filed applications with the government as of yesterday to provide the flights.

The airline operators have expressed concerns about several issues, including document verification, which would involve the recognition of the Republic of China's designation carried in every ROC passport. The carriers have also expressed concerns about whether enough people will want to take the flights -- made more expensive because of required stopovers in Hong Kong or Macau.

KMT Legislator John Chang (章孝嚴), a major proponent of the flights plan, which has obtained the endorsement of 140 of his colleagues in the 224-seat Legislative Yuan, proposed in October that Taiwanese carriers be allowed to operate some 120 chartered flights between Taipei and Shanghai during the Lunar New Year.

He said this would also help save Taiwanese businessmen about half the cost of having to book separate flights between the two locations via a third country.

The Cabinet-level Mainland Affairs Council, Taiwan's top agency in charge of China policies, agreed in late November to allow Taiwanese carriers to operate chartered flights to China for the holidays under the condition that the flights included stopovers in Hong Kong or Macau.

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