Thu, Feb 24, 2005 - Page 2 News List

China may release cargo flights policy

By Joy Su  /  STAFF REPORTER

Beijing is expected to announce new policies regarding plans to implement cross-strait cargo charter flights tomorrow, according to a report in China's official China Daily newspaper yesterday.

The report quoted Pu Zhaozhou (浦照洲), executive director of the China Civil Aviation Association, as saying that China was willing to take practical steps toward an early implementation of direct air links, including charter cargo flights, between Taiwan and China.

"Related officials will elaborate on our attitude toward and our stance on the issue at the news conference to be held by the Taiwan Affairs Office [TAO]," Pu said.

The TAO's weekly press conference is usually scheduled to be held on Thursday, but it has reportedly already been pushed back to tomorrow.

Efforts toward implementing charter cargo flights came under the spotlight following the successful operation of non-stop charter passenger flights for Taiwanese businesspeople during the Lunar New Year. Prompted by the breakthrough charter flights and the preceding negotiations, President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) vowed last Wednesday to make cargo flights a top priority this year and urged Beijing to discuss the matter with Taiwan. The Mainland Affairs Council has also stated that it has not yet ruled out the possibility of direct, reciprocal charter cargo flights servicing multiple ports.

Pu made the comments on Tuesday during an annual New Year's banquet hosted by China's Civil Aviation Association. The banquet brought together airline operators from China, Taiwan, Macau and Hong Kong. In attendance were representatives from Taiwan's primary carriers, including Michael Lo (樂大信), chairman of the Taipei Airlines Association (TAA).

"The passenger charters just concluded at the Lunar New Year holiday provided a sound basis for future cargo charter flights across the Taiwan Strait," Lo was quoted as saying.

Lo and Pu, during a meeting in Macau on Jan. 15, hammered out an agreement that made possible the just concluded New Year charter passenger flights.

As head of the TAA, Lo had been formally authorized by the Mainland Affairs Council to conduct negotiations with Beijing under the supervision of transportation officials.

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