Tue, Jan 09, 2018 - Page 1 News List

CAA gives suggestions for route response

UNDISCLOSED DETAILS:The agency said 103 commercial flights from four airlines used the new routes between Thursday last week and yesterday, despite its warnings

By Shelley Shan  /  Staff reporter

The national flag flies at the Taipei International Airport (Songshan Airport) on Thursday last week.

Photo: EPA

The Civil Aeronautics Administration (CAA) yesterday said it has submitted proposals to the Mainland Affairs Council regarding possible actions to address issues arising from China’s unilateral launch of four aviation routes over the Taiwan Strait on Thursday last week.

The air routes are for northbound flights on the M503 route, which is only 7.8km from the median line of the Strait, as well as those on three extension routes — W121, W122 and W123 — along China’s southeast coast.

Beijing unilaterally created these routes in 2015 to relieve flight congestion on its A470 route, which is used by flights between the Yangtze River Delta and the Pearl River Delta.

The International Civil Aviation Organization had approved use of the M503 route for civilian aircraft.

Taiwan and China in 2015 reached an agreement that only southbound flights would be permitted on route M503 and that the three extension routes would not be activated until after the negotiations had been completed.

However, China on Thursday launched the four routes without negotiating with Taipei in advance.

The Mainland Affairs Council denounced Beijing’s move, accusing it of breaching terms of the 2015 agreement and “attempting to cover its malicious intentions toward Taiwan under the guise of civil aviation.”

It also asked China to immediately stop all flights on the four routes and to start negotiating over their safety, adding that the nation would take corresponding measures if China ignores its demands.

However, the Taiwan Affairs Office of China’s State Council said that it does not have to negotiate with Taiwan over the routes, as activating their use is simply part of the Chinese civil aviation authority’s job to manage its airspace.

According to CAA data, between Thursday last week and 4pm yesterday, 103 commercial flights used the four routes, despite the agency’s instruction to 80 domestic and international airlines to refrain from using them due to safety concerns.

The flights belonged to Hong Kong Dragon Airlines Ltd (港龍航空), Hong Kong Airlines Ltd (香港航空), China Eastern Airlines Corp (中國東方航空) and XiamenAir (廈門航空), the agency said.

The CAA has yet to receive any official response from the Chinese civil aviation authority.

The CAA said it examined all viable measures when making the assessment about possible responses, but did not disclose details.

In the past, the agency has taken measures to deal with carriers that defy its orders or recommendations when using certain routes, such as not approving their flights or giving their flights less favorable landing and departure times.

The W122 route is close to that used by flights between Taipei and Matsu, whereas the W123 route could clash with that used by flights to Kinmen from Tainan or Kaohsiung, the CAA said.

The M503 route could also disrupt the nation’s military operations near the median line of the Strait, it said, adding that negotiations would help air traffic controllers guide flights when they must deviate from the established routes.

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