Sun, Jan 11, 2009 - Page 3 News List

Taiwan seeks more flights from PRC

TIGHT CAPACITY Restrictions on the number of flights leaving from Shanghai for Taiwan could affect as many as 10,000 travelers during Lunar New Year

STAFF WRITER, WITH CNA

Taiwan is coordinating with Chinese authorities on the possibility of increasing the number of charter flights to and from Shanghai during the Lunar New Year holiday to serve the needs of Taiwanese planning to return home for the holidays, a Mainland Affairs Council (MAC) official said yesterday.

To meet the expected high demand during the holiday, Taiwanese carriers had previously applied to operate an additional 36 flights to Shanghai, but Chinese authorities approved only 20 extra flights because of the tight capacity at the Shanghai Pudong Airport — a decision that affected the travel plans of about 10,000 people.

TALKS

MAC Vice Chairman Fu Don-cheng (傅棟成), who is visiting China, told Taiwanese media that Taiwan was in communication with Chinese authorities and was seeking the approval of more flights.

There were no similar problem with charter services between Taiwan and other Chinese destinations, Fu said.

Lee Mao-sheng (李茂盛), president of the Taiwan Businessmen’s Association in Shanghai, said the situation mainly affected Taiwanese residents in Shanghai and that the association had recently raised the issue with the Shanghai City government.

QUESTIONS

Although the city government has agreed to increase the number of flights, it remains uncertain how many extra flights would be allowed by Chinese authorities, Lee said.

The nonstop charter flights launched last month between Taipei and Shanghai are no longer required to make a detour through Hong Kong airspace.

Travel time between the two cities is now less than 90 minutes, compared with nearly six hours on the route through Hong Kong.

Cross-Strait charter flights for passengers were first launched in 2003 to transport China-based Taiwanese businesspeople and their families home for the Lunar New Year holiday and back to China.

EVOLUTION

The services were expanded in 2006 to cover the Mid-Autumn Festival and further in 2007 to cover two more holidays — the Tomb Sweeping Festival and the Dragon Boat Festival.

Weekend charter services were launched in July last year and daily charter services began operating on Dec. 15.

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