Wed, Jan 19, 2011 - Page 3 News List

Cross-strait pact watchdog decries conflict of interest

By Shelley Shan  /  Staff Reporter

Cross-strait Agreement Watch yesterday said there was a major conflict of interest when the government negotiated cross-strait aviation pacts in the name of the Taipei Airlines Association, saying the founding purpose of the association was to protect the interests of airlines rather than consumers.

“The negotiations were conducted by the associations formed by Taiwanese carriers or Chinese carriers,” the group said in a statement. “As both players and the referees, they only agreed to allow flight carriers in Taiwan and China operate cross-strait flights.”

The group added that negotiations had resulted in nothing but unfair treaties between Taiwan and China. It said that Taiwan agreed to allow only Chinese carriers to operate flights from Wuxi because the Chinese government said that Wuxi was a military airport.

The group further said that among the 62 additional cross-strait flights run by Taiwanese carriers for the Lunar New Year holiday, 27 were asked to take off at “red-eye” hours from Shanghai, Hangzhou and Shenzhen. In comparison, only a small number of Chinese airlines applied for red-eye flights.

To help lower ticket prices for cross-strait flights, the group said cross-strait flights should not be limited to Taiwanese carriers or Chinese carriers. The government should allow international airlines to enter the market, which would in turn cause the cross-strait carriers to lower their prices, it said.

In response, the Civil Aeronautics Administration (CAA) said that all the negotiations were conducted by government officials.

“Only government officials from both sides can engage in direct negotiations, and no airline representative is allowed to be present. The measure was designed to set aside controversies and facilitate communication. It has nothing to do with the founding purpose of the association,” it said.

The CAA said that Wuxi was added on the new service list because of the requests of the Taiwanese businesspeople in China. As the airspace in Shanghai will be crowded during the Lunar New Year holiday, the Chinese government then decided to open the military airport. The CAA said 11 flights were scheduled to depart from Shenzhen at red-eye hours because they were the only time slots that Shenzhen Airport had available during the Lunar New Year holiday. However, the red-eye flights from Shanghai and Hangzhou were handed down at the request of Taiwanese carriers because of their aircraft arrangements.

As to the proposal to allow other international airlines to operate cross-strait flights, the CAA said it would take more than just unilateral action by the Taiwanese government to open the cross-strait market to them.

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