Tue, Feb 22, 2005 - Page 2 News List

Government must OK flight talks: MOTC

CNA , Taipei

The opening of direct charter cargo flights across the Taiwan Strait needs to be discussed by representatives commissioned by the governments of the two sides, a Ministry of Transportation and Communications (MOTC) official said yesterday.

Lin Chih-ming (林志明), director of the MOTC's Department of Navigation and Aviation, said that he does not think it appropriate that senior executives from six Taiwanese airlines talk about the issue with Chinese authorities when they attend a Spring Festival party in Beijing today. The event is being hosted by the Civil Aviation Administration of China.

Although unprecedented direct cross-strait charter passenger flights went off without a hitch during the recent Lunar New Year holiday, creating a favorable atmosphere for carriers from the two sides to consider direct cross-strait charter cargo flights, Lin said that official negotiations are a must before direct cross-strait charter cargo flights can be opened.

Taiwanese negotiators, whether officials from the private Taipei Airlines Association (TAA) or airline representatives themselves, will have to be authorized by the Mainland Affairs Council to engage in cross-strait negotiations before direct charter cargo flights are operated on a regular basis, Lin said. He added that since Beijing refuses to engage the government, the council had to commission an official from the TAA to negotiate the Lunar New Year charter flights and other aviation pacts with Hong Kong and Macau in the past.

Chang Kuo-cheng (張國政), director-general of the MOTC's Civil Aeronautics Administration, in his capacity as an adviser to the private TAA, took part in talks with Chinese negotiators for the opening of the landmark Lunar New Year charter passenger flights. Chang said that so far he has no idea whether he will be assigned again as one of the negotiators for talks with Beijing on direct cross-strait cargo flights.

All 12 senior executives from Taiwan's six carriers who are traveling to Beijing for today's party have kept a low profile and have said nothing about speculation that direct cross-strait cargo flights will be brought up during the party.

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