Mon, Apr 07, 2014 - Page 13 News List

Airlines, industry urge end to ban on Chinese layovers

Staff writer, with CNA

Airlines and travel industry groups are hoping that China’s effective ban on its citizens changing planes in Taiwan will be lifted soon, the groups said on Saturday, ahead of a high-profile international forum in China this week.

China Airlines Ltd (CAL, 中華航空), Taiwan’s largest carrier, called it a matter of reciprocity, saying that Taiwanese travelers can transit to regions such as Europe via Chinese airports, but Chinese passengers are still not allowed to head to a third destination via Taiwan.

The carrier also proposed a checking system modeled on Hong Kong’s, which would allow Chinese citizens to transfer without a permit, if they bring passports and visas for their destinations.

Taiwan’s second-largest airline, EVA Airways Corp (EVA, 長榮航空), also said that allowing Chinese layovers should be a priority, as it could play a key role in the Taoyuan Aerotropolis development project centered around Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport.

The Travel Agent Association of the Republic of China also shared optimism that layovers would help airlines and tourism businesses.

The issue is being highlighted ahead of the annual Boao Forum for Asia in China’s Hainan Province, which is set to run from tomorrow to Friday.

Former vice president Vincent Siew (蕭萬長) will head a delegation to the forum in his capacity as former chairman of the Cross-Straits Common Market Foundation.

Siew is widely expected to meet Chinese Premier Li Keqiang (李克強) on the sidelines of the conference.

Siew is unlikely to bring up the student protests that have rocked Taipei if he meets with Li, according to a source close to Siew.

Cross-Straits Common Market Foundation chairman Chan Hou-sheng (詹火生) said on Saturday that Siew is expected to focus on the nation’s intention to participate in regional economic integration.

Chan said that during the potential meeting, Siew, who he described as an outspoken supporter of Taiwan’s economic integration efforts, would convey to Li the nation’s goal of joining negotiations on the proposed Trans-Pacific Partnership and the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership.

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