Tue, Feb 25, 2003 - Page 3 News List

KMT lawmaker wants to expand charter flights

By Sandy Huang  /  STAFF REPORTER

KMT Legislator John Chang (章孝嚴) yesterday said that he would work to push for more cross-strait flights in the new legislative session, which convenes today.

Chang submitted proposals on the periodical operations of charter flights, cargo charter flights and charter flights during election periods.

"I think these suggestions will meet the needs of the public and the market," Chang said at a KMT forum, which was held to discuss issues the party's legislative caucus wants to concentrate on during the new legislative session.

"The charter flights need not be operated just for special holidays but should be periodical, like once a month or so, to better serve China-based Taiwanese businesspeople," said Chang, who initiated the idea of cross-strait charter flights during the last legislative session.

His proposal was put into practice earlier this month when six Taiwanese airlines were granted permission to operate charter flights for Taiwanese businesspeople in China for the Lunar New Year holidays.

For security reasons, these flights had to make brief stopovers in either Hong Kong or Macau on their way to Taiwan.

Saying that he was happy to see that the Lunar New Year charter flights were a success, Chang said that, to save costs and traveling time, he would continue to push for the operation of direct flights.

Chang also said that cargo charter flights would help enhance cross-strait trade.

In a bid to safeguard the voting rights of "millions of Taiwanese" residing in China, there should be charter flights operating during election periods to serve these people, Chang said.

"That way, the flights will also ensure the fairness of the election as it allows registered voters residing in China a convenient way to come back to Taiwan to cast their votes," he said.

Among other plans suggested by Chang related to cross-strait flights included additional airports in China and broadening the kinds of passengers that the charter flights should serve.

"During the Lunar New Year charter-flight service, the flights only took off from Shanghai's Putong Airport," Chang said.

"I think it would be great if charter flights were available from other major cities in China such as Beijing, Qingdao, Chengdu and Wuhan," he said.

"To avoid the airliners from loosing money as a result of less-than-full capacity, I will also propose that future flights include tourists and students" as passengers, Chang said.

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