Mon, May 27, 2002 - Page 3 News List

Crash could mean China Airlines out of new flights to HK

By Lindy Yeh and Chang Yu-jung  /  STAFF REPORTERS

Saturday's China Airlines crash could impact negotiations on Taiwan-Hong Kong air links, said an official with the Taiwan's Civil Aeronautics Administration (CAA) yesterday, who suggested China Airlines could lose some its expected new flights on the route.

CAA Deputy Director-General Abram Huang (黃鍚榮) made the remark at a press conference yesterday.

According to the Civil Aviation Law and international aviation practice, any airlines that experience a crash will lose its right to enjoy any increased flights in the negotiation of a new aviation pact of the given routes for one year, Huang said.

Huang added that the new flights might all go to EVA Airways.

China Airlines and EVA Airways are the two Taiwanese carriers that fly the route with their Hong Kong counterparts, Cathay Pacific Airways and Dragon Air.

"If the investigation concludes that the company is not responsible for the crash, the company would get be compensated by the authorities," Huang said.

When asked about possible compensation, Huang said the authorities may give increased flights to the company in the next round of negotiations.

Taiwanese authorities are in talks with their Hong Kong counterparts to strike a new aviation accord to extend air links between the two areas.

The current agreement will expire on June 30.

Though negotiators of both sides are tight-lipped over the details of the talks, reports have suggested that Taipei has proposed that passenger flights be increased by 46 a week and cargo flights be increased by 16. Of those, China Airlines expects to receive 16 passenger flights and seven cargo flights.

China Airline has 105 round-trip passenger flights and six cargo flights weekly between Taipei and Hong Kong, while EVA air has only 16 passenger flights and no cargo flights.

It has been rumored that Cathay Pacific is opposed to the increase for fear that too many flights would bring down its profits.

Last night, Taiwan's two top negotiators -- CAA Director-General Chang Kuo-cheng (張國政) and the Mainland Affairs Council (MAC) Director of Department of Research and Planning Jan Jyh-horng (詹志宏), both declined to comment on the matter of China Airlines' possible loss of the increased flights.

China Airlines spokesman Paul Wang (王振畬) said yesterday that the company hasn't received any official notice concerning the matter.

"But we do hope the authorities make the decision only after the investigation reports comes out," Wang said.

Taipei and Hong Kong finished a second-round of talks in Hong Kong on Friday.

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