Tue, Oct 07, 2008 - Page 3 News List

Taiwan, China agree terms of direct flights: official

STAFF WRITER, WITH CNA

Minister of Transportation and Communications Mao Chi-kuo (毛治國) said yesterday that Taiwan and China share a common view on adopting direct routes for existing nonstop cross-strait weekend chartered flights.

Speaking at the legislature, Mao said proposals on the adoption of the shortest possible routes for direct cross-strait weekend chartered flights have almost been drafted by the Straits Exchange Foundation (SEF) and China’s Association for Relations Across the Taiwan Strait (ARATS).

“Once the new rounds of SEF-ARATS talks take place and details on the matter are worked out, agreements on the opening of direct weekend chartered flights via direct routes could be signed by the two sides,” Mao said.

Direct flights via direct routes would help reduce the flying time between Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport and Beijing to two hours and 30 minutes and between Taoyuan and Shanghai to just 67 minutes, Mao said.

In response to a question raised by Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Legislator Chen Ken-teh (陳根德), Mao agreed that direct flights via direct routes would help save energy and reduce carbon dioxide emissions, but said the issue involves crucial cross-strait negotiations.

Mao said he could not disclose the content of the new SEF proposal and that there is no timetable for the signing of agreements on the opening of such flights.

He said the relevant agencies, including the Ministry of National Defense, have already given the nod to the content of the proposal.

Direct cross-strait weekend chartered flights began in early July after SEF and ARATS negotiators reached agreements in Beijing in June.

All the direct cross-strait weekend chartered flights, however, have been flown so far with a detour over Hong Kong to symbolize the flights’ passage via a “third location.”

In their planned new round of talks, SEF and ARATS negotiators are expected to focus discussions on the opening of direct cross-strait cargo chartered flights and shipping links, the establishment of new passenger chartered flight routes, joint oil exploration in the Taiwan Strait and cross-strait crime-fighting.

Of these topics, the establishment of new passenger chartered flight routes will address the opening of the shortest-possible cross-strait routes, Civil Aeronautics Administration Director-General Lee Long-wen (李龍文) said.

Lee said both sides have tacit understanding that direct flights via direct routes “could be done, but not to be spelled out” prematurely.

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