Fri, Apr 17, 2009 - Page 4 News List

CAA denies secret talks about cross-strait flights

GREAT DIVIDE The Civil Aeronautics Administration denied a report that its director-general had been on a secretive mission to Shanghai to discuss aviation issues

By Shelley Shan  /  STAFF REPORTER

Dismissing allegations that talks on increasing the number of cross-strait charter flights were being conducted in a “secretive manner,” the Civil Aeronautics Administration (CAA) yesterday also denied that negotiations with China on the topic had stalled.

The CAA’s statement came after a report in the Chinese-language United Daily News yesterday that CAA Director-General Lee Lung-wen (李龍文) had left for Shanghai on Monday on a secretive mission to negotiate about cross-strait aviation issues.

The United Daily News said the CAA had proposed that both sides increase the number of weekly charter flights before ­regular cross-strait flights officially start in July, because the occupancy rate of direct cross-strait flights had exceeded an average of 90 percent.

However, China opposed the proposal, the newspaper reported.

Lee had been scheduled to brief the media after attending the weekly ministry meeting yesterday, but he left the meeting as soon as it was over and sent CAA chief secretary Chen Tien-tsyh (陳天賜) to answer reporters’ questions.

Chen did not comment on his supervisor’s alleged secret trip to Shanghai, saying simply that Lee was “very low-key when it comes to details of cross-strait negotiations.”

The CAA, however, issued a press release saying that it would be inappropriate to disclose details of cross-strait negotiations because any agreements were still subject to change.

Chen said the average occupancy rate of cross-strait flights was about 89 percent, with the average occupancy rate of Taiwanese airlines reaching about 90 percent and that of Chinese airlines 86.1 percent.

The number of Chinese tourists entering the nation hit a record high of 5,379 on Wednesday, with the daily average expected to top 4,100 next week, Chen said.

These numbers do not include the tour groups direct marketing firm Amway China has been sending to Taiwan as part of an incentive scheme.

Tourism Bureau director-­general Janice Lai (賴瑟珍) said the National Immigration Agency last week decided to move the unused quota for Chinese tourists between January and last month to this month so that more Chinese tourists could be allowed to visit the country.

“The unused quota will also be used on the Labor Day weekend,” she said.

In related news, the Tourism Bureau said it had placed another 500 hotels on the list of lodgings qualified to accommodate the increasing number of Chinese tourists.

“We were able to do so because we have dropped the daily charge for Chinese tourists from US$80 to US$60, and we have also lowered the cap on the number of Chinese tourists in a group from 10 to five, so more local hotels, hostels and farm houses are able to provide accommodation for Chinese tourists,” Lai said.

She said she hoped airlines on both sides of the Strait would be able to make more seats available sooner to clear up delays in the application process for Chinese tourists.

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