Thu, May 15, 2008 - Page 3 News List

Four airports picked for cross-strait charter flights

STAFF WRITER, WITH CNA

Four airports have been picked to accommodate the planned weekend charter flights between the two sides of the Taiwan Strait, the minister-designate of transportation and communications said yesterday.

“The four are Taipei Songshan Airport and Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport in northern Taiwan, Taichung Airport in central Taiwan and Kaohsiung International Airport in the south,” Mao Chi-kuo (毛治國) said in an interview with a local TV network.

Asked what airports in China are likely to be designated to accommodate the weekend flights, Mao said that decision would be up to China.

Mao added that preparations were under way for the planned expanded opening to Chinese tourists.

He said that the introduction of regular cross-strait charter flights and increased opening to Chinese tourists on sightseeing visits were two of president-elect Ma Ying-jeou’s (馬英九) campaign promises.

Mao said he would do his utmost to implement the measures after he takes office on Tuesday.

He also promised that he would conduct a thorough review of the country’s transportation structure and policies as part of an effort to upgrade the quality of the national transportation network.

Touching on the recent shutdown of Far Eastern Air Transport Corp (FAT, 遠東航空) — the nation’s oldest privately owned airline specializing in domestic and regional routes — Mao said that his heart ached over the carrier’s decline from a blue-chip company to a debt-ridden one.

Describing FAT as a good airline, Mao said that the ministry could not intervene in the company’s financial problems until the Taipei District Court has ruled on FAT’s request for bankruptcy protection.

FAT filed for bankruptcy protection on Feb. 17 after reporting debts of NT$9.99 billion (US$322 million) at the end of September.

Mao said he thought it was time for the nation’s transportation industry to be revamped.

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