Wed, Feb 14, 2007 - Page 2 News List

Cross-strait Lunar New Year charter flights begin

REUNIONS A total of 96 flights between Taipei and Kaohsiung and select cities in China will run through Feb. 26 to facilitate travel during the holiday period


Cross-strait flights commenced yesterday with a Shanghai-bound plane taking off from Taipei yesterday, marking the first of 96 direct flights scheduled to take place during the Lunar New Year holidays, Taiwanese airlines said yesterday.

Billed as part of the government's efforts to ease travel restrictions during the holidays, the nonstop services will run through Feb. 26, connecting Taipei and Kaohsiung with the cities of Shanghai, Beijing, Guangzhou and Xiamen.


Each side will operate 48 flights to transport mainly Taiwanese businesspeople and their families back home for the holidays.

All Taiwanese nationals, as well as Chinese who are relatives or employees of Taiwanese businessmen, are eligible for the services.

Mandarin Airlines, a unit of Taiwan's China Airlines, launched the holiday service with a flight leaving Taipei for Shanghai at 7am, an airline official said.

The plane, carrying 239 passengers, landed in Shanghai around 10am and a return flight with 378 passengers was scheduled to depart from Shanghai at 11:40am, she said.

China and Taiwan first offered direct charter flights -- although they have to fly over Hong Kong's airspace -- for the Lunar New Year holidays in 2005.

major holidays

The two sides agreed last June to expand charter passenger flights during major holidays and open special cargo and charter services for emergency healthcare and special humanitarian purposes.

Under the agreement, 12 Tai-wanese and Chinese carriers can operate a total of 168 flights a year for passenger charter services during the Lunar New Year, Tomb Sweeping Festival, Dragon Boat Festival and the Mid-Autumn Festival periods.

Aside from Mandarin Airlines, Taiwan's China Airlines, EVA Airways Corp, Far Eastern Transport Corp and TransAsia Airways Corp will also fly these routes.

On the Chinese side, Air China and Hainan Airlines will serve the Beijing and Taipei route, while China Eastern Airlines and Shanghai Airlines will fly between Shanghai and Taipei.

They will be followed by China Southern Airlines and Xiamen Airlines.

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