Sun, Jan 16, 2005 - Page 3 News List

Businessmen praise agreement reached on charter flights

DEAL Although it came `a little late' Taiwanese citizens working in China welcomed a landmark agreement that will allow direct cross-strait flights

CNA , BEIJING

The leaders of several Taiwanese businesspeople's associations in China welcomed yesterday an agreement reached between the two sides of the Taiwan Strait on the launch of charter flights for the Lunar New Year holiday period, although it came "a bit late."

Chen Kuo-yuan (陳國原), secretary-general of the Taiwanese Businesspeople's Association in Beijing, said that it is historically significant to have Chinese civilian planes land legally on Taiwanese soil for the first time in five decades.

Chen made the remarks after aviation representatives from Taipei and Beijing reached an agreement earlier that day in Macau.

Chen said that his association will coordinate with related associations in Heibei and Tianjin to help Taiwanese businesspeople book tickets on the charter flights during the Lunar New Year holiday.

But he also said that "it was a pity that the agreement came a bit late, as most businesspeople have already booked their tickets" through existing channels.

Kuo Shan-huei (郭山輝), president of association in Tungguan, said that with air carriers from both sides of the Taiwan Strait offering services, it will be a historically significant move.

The agreement will be especially useful as one of the destinations is Guangzhou, where there is a large concentration of Taiwanese businesspeople.

Chang Han-wen (張漢文), another association official, said that businesspeople in Guangzhou are in great need of charter flights, as a lot of them are in the manufacturing industry and the only time they can make a trip home is during the Lunar New Year holiday. The direct charter flights will save them time and money as they will not have to route their journey via a third place such as Hong Kong or Macau.

Meanwhile, a Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) official said yesterday that the agreement reached between the two sides of the Taiwan Strait on the launch of cross-strait charter flights during the Lunar New Year holidays marks a step further in exchanges across the Taiwan Strait.

Tseng Yung-chuan (曾永權), a KMT legislator and executive director of the party's policy committee, claimed that it was the KMT that first promoted the idea, earning an enthusiastic response from the ruling Democratic Progressive Party.

Tseng said that the opposition parties still have a lot of room for participation in issues related to cross-strait relations and the general public, adding that the KMT likes to see positive developments in cross-strait relations.

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