Sun, Feb 20, 2005 - Page 3 News List

Airline chiefs to meet Chinese officials

By Joy Su  /  STAFF REPORTER

Local airline representatives are slated to meet with Chinese aviation authorities at a banquet in Beijing on Tuesday, just one week after President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) announced plans to pursue cross-strait cargo flights.

Taipei Airlines Association (TAA) head Michael Lo (樂大信), along with UniAir president Cheng Kuang-yuan (鄭光遠), TransAsia Airways chairman Tony Fan (范志強) and China Airlines chairman Chiang Yao-chung (江耀宗) are scheduled to meet with Pu Zhaozhou (浦照洲), executive director of China's Civil Aviation Association in Beijing, according to media reports yesterday.

TransAsia's Fan told the Taipei Times yesterday that he had planned to attend the banquet at the CAA's invitation and that Pu would most likely be in attendance, but it was unlikely that he would discuss the possibility of cross-strait cargo flights.

Fan further said that the trip was scheduled a long time ago and that Hong Kong and Macau airline representatives would also attend the banquet, which is held annually to celebrate the Lunar New Year.

He also added that the airline chiefs had not been authorized by the government to negotiate direct cargo flight links with China.

TAA head Lo could not be reached for comment yesterday.

As head of TAA, Lo last month -- under the supervision of transportation officials and authorization from the Mainland Affairs Council -- negotiated direct Lunar New Year flights with Pu. The Macau meeting made possible the first ever non-stop charter flights across the Strait and serviced roughly 10,000 Taiwanese businesspeople returning home for the new year holiday.

The banquet comes as discussion regarding the possibility of cross-strait cargo flights seemed to be heating up in light of the success of the Lunar New Year charter flights. While current regulations hold that cargo flights make transit stops in either Hong Kong or Macau, the MAC said on Friday that it would be willing to consider direct, reciprocal cargo flights to China. It also said that it would not rule out establishing multiple air routes across the strait.

Cargo operators have long been eager to see the relaxation of flight restrictions, citing unnecessary transportation costs incurred by the lack of direct flights.

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