Sun, Jan 23, 2005 - Page 4 News List

Kinmen flight links are touch and go


With the special cross-strait charter flights for the upcoming Chinese New Year holiday set to take off, the hopes of residents on the outlying islands of Kinmen and Matsu for the establishment of air links seems to be fading again, local government officials said yesterday.

Although the two islands have maintained direct trade, postal and shipping links with Xiamen and Mawei ports in China's Fujian Province since the start of 2001, officials said that local residents have high expectations that air travel services could be added to the so-called "small three links" to further boost economic development and tourism.

But the chances are slim now that direct cross-strait charter flights to serve China-based Taiwan businesspeople returning home for the holiday are set to take off, the officials said, adding that all the local people can do now is hope that services will be minimally impact on the "small three links."

Despite the fact that the "small three links" have been in place for over four years, Kinmen and Matsu residents are not satisfied with the operations because of the many restrictions and lack of air links.

Several recent polls have shown that most of the residents of the islands give a failing grade to the services, and the Control Yuan even asked the Executive Yuan earlier this month to remedy several major shortcomings of the links and enhance their functions.

Kinmen and Matsu residents have repeatedly called on the central government to set up air services via the "small three links" to allow the islands to effectively serve as a transshipment hub between Taiwan and China, but the government has repeatedly turned a deaf ear to their calls, the officials said.

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