Thu, Feb 01, 2007 - Page 3 News List

Airlines cool on call for additional charter flights

TOO LATE Taiwanese airlines said it would be difficult to add more cross-strait charter flight services for the Lunar New Year holiday as it is only two weeks away

AGENCIES , TAIPEI AND BEIJING

Airlines said yesterday that it would be difficult at this point to add additional flights to the schedule for direct Lunar New Year cross-strait charter flight services.

The airlines made the comments in response to a call from Beijing yesterday for Taiwan to add more charter flights for the holiday.

The 96 flights already authorized are inadequate for the number of Taiwanese businesspeople in China, Yang Yi (楊毅), a spokesman for the Chinese Cabinet's Taiwan Affairs Office, said at a news conference in Beijing.

"One hopes the Taiwan authorities will agree that the cross-strait airline organizations can negotiate this and appropriately add more charter flights for the New Year," he said.

"Especially in Shanghai, Tai-wan businesspeople say these flights cannot meet their needs," he said.

EVA Airways spokesman Nieh Kuo-wei (聶國維) said that the number of charter flights sched-uled for this year's holiday is much higher than the number of flights last year.

It would be difficult to arrange additional flights with the holiday only two weeks away, she said.

This year's holiday charters are scheduled to be launched on Feb. 13, with carriers on both sides operating a total of 96 flights.

Six carriers from each side of the Taiwan Strait will operate the flights between Taipei or Kaohsiung and Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou and Xiamen between Feb. 13 and Feb. 26.

China Airlines spokesman Johnson Sun (孫鴻文) said whether additional flights should be arranged was an issue the airlines would consider in terms of business interests.

A spokesman for Far Eastern Air Transport Corp said the company could barely accommodate the domestic flight demand during the holiday period, not to mention putting aside extra flights for the cross-strait charter services.

Meanwhile, Civil Aeronautic Administration officials said that despite the rush in asking airlines to arrange for additional flights in such a short period of time, the Mainland Affairs Council would have the final say in the matter.

This will mark the fourth year that direct cross-strait charter flight services are offered during the Lunar New Year holiday.

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