Government officials will greet historic charter flights from China on Jan. 29, the day when the special service begins to carry Taiwan businesspeople home for the Lunar New Year holiday, a Mainland Affairs Council official said yesterday.
According to the official, council Vice Chairman Chiu Tai-san (邱太三), Civil Aeronautics Administration Director-General Billy Chang (張國政) and officials from the Ministry of Transportation and Communications and the Straits Exchange Foundation will get together that day at CKS International Airport to welcome the planes coming from China.
Celebrations will also be held at Kaohsiung International Airport.
Nine flights will be offered on the first day of the direct service, to be provided by six aviation companies from either side of the Taiwan Strait.
At present, about 4,000 Taiwan businesspeople and their dependents in China -- 2,400 in Shanghai, 1,050 in Guangzhou and 480 in Beijing -- have applied to take the direct charter flights to Taiwan.
Airlines do not expect the routes to make money.
Officials from Taiwan and China agreed on the flight model earlier this month in Macau, under which Chinese carriers are also included in the service.
It marks a departure from 2003, when the first such charter flights took off -- operated solely by Taiwanese airlines which had to fly via Hong Kong or Macau.
The flights were not offered last year because of China's refusal to talk with Taiwan over its demand that Chinese carriers be also allowed to operate the flights.