A TransAsia Airways' Airbus A321 flew from Taipei to Xiamen in China's Fujian Province yesterday morning, marking the start of Taiwan-Xiamen direct charter flights, which are part of this year's Lunar New Year cross-strait charter flight services.
With 194 passengers onboard, the TransAsia plane departed from CKS International Airport at 9am and arrived at Xiamen's Gaoqi Airport at 10:40am.
Nearly 70 percent of the passengers on the flight were Taiwanese tourists, while some were Fujianese women married to Taiwanese. When the 194-seat plane made its return flight to Taipei later in the day, all the passengers aboard were expected to be China-based Taiwanese businesspeople and their family members.
The TransAsia flight marks the first Taipei-Xiamen direct charter flight since cross-strait Lunar New Year services began in 2004.
Meanwhile, a Xiamen Air passenger plane arrived at CKS airport at 9:25am, also carrying Taiwanese businesspeople back home for the Lunar New Year holidays.
Officials from Trans Asia Airways said that a direct flight from Taipei to Xiamen takes approximately 100 minutes, which is three or four hours less than the travel time on the usual route -- which includes a transit stop in Macau.
In addition to Trans Asia Airways, three other Taiwanese carriers -- UNI Airways, Far East Air Transport Corp. and Mandarin Airlines -- are also operating direct Taipei-Xiamen or Kaohsiung-Xiamen charter flights in the three days leading up to New Year's Day, which falls on Jan. 29 this year.
Six carriers each
Six carriers from each side of the Taiwan Strait have been authorized to operate direct cross-strait charter flights during the New Year holiday period.
Each side will offer a total of 72 charter flights between Taipei and Kaohsiung in Taiwan and Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou and Xiamen in China over the holiday period. Taiwanese citizens with valid entry permits issued by the governments on both sides of the strait are eligible to take the special flights.
As Lunar New Year is just around the corner, direct cross-strait charter flight services are now in full swing. Also expected to land at Taiwan's CKS airport and Kaohsiung Airport yesterday were flights by China Southern Air, Hainan Airlines, Air China International and China Eastern Air.