On the first day the US granted visa-waiver status to Republic of China (ROC) passport holders, 77 Taiwanese tourists on board China Airlines CI006, which took off at 5:10pm from Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport, were the first group to travel to the US without a visa.
During a ceremony at the boarding gate at the airport terminal, China Airlines chairman Chang Chia-juch (張家祝) made the announcement to mark the first direct flight from Taiwan to the US after the implementation of the US Visa-Waiver Program.
On board the aircraft, a Boeing 747SP, were 351 tourists, including a “VIP guest,” American Institute in Taiwan Director Christopher Marut, Chang said.
Among the travelers who boarded the airplane, 109 held ROC passports, and 77 enjoyed visa-waiver access, Chang said.
“It’s a great honor for China Airlines to fly this first direct flight. The nation’s tourism industry will certainly receive a big boost from the [US visa-waiver] policy,” Chang said.
In his remarks delivered in Mandarin, Marut said that the visa waiver was a result of years of efforts by both sides.
He said it was a testimony to accomplishments in bilateral trade and economic ties, and a milestone in people-to-people relations.
The departure of the CI006 flight was a “historical moment” because it signified that the relationship between Taiwan and the US “has taken off” on all fronts, Minister of Foreign Affairs David Lin (林永樂) said.
“It will create more opportunities for business-to-business exchanges and create closer bilateral ties in all the possible areas,” he said.
Under the program, Taiwanese traveling to the US for a stay of no more than 90 days need to apply for the electronic system for travel authorization (ESTA) online using a fee of US$14. The permit is valid for two years.
In response, Taiwan extended the number of days US passport holders may stay in Taiwan on a visitor visa from 30 days to 90 days, effective yesterday.
In other news, the Taiwanese government has expressed its sympathy to the US, where in recent days Hurricane Sandy has caused severe damage and claimed dozens of lives, and is mulling ways to offer assistance for post-storm reconstruction.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs is considering ways to assist the US, including making donations toward relief efforts, ministry spokesman Steve Hsia (夏季昌) said.
President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) also expressed his sympathy for the US on Wednesday during a meeting with US Undersecretary of Commerce for International Trade Francisco Sanchez, who left for home earlier in the day after a three-day visit to promote bilateral trade and investment.
No deaths or casualties of Taiwanese had been reported from storm-hit areas of the US, Hsia said.
Additonal reporting by CNA
TOO TIRED: Investigators found that the pilot’s lack of alertness could be attributed to a lack of sleep the previous night, when he had slept with his child It was a copilot’s inappropriate operation of the aircraft and the pilot’s insufficient alertness that led to a hard landing of a China Airlines cargo flight on Dec. 13, 2018, the Taiwan Transportation Safety Board said yesterday. Flight CI6844, a Boeing 747-409 which departed from Hong Kong International Airport, landed on the pre-threshold area of runway L5 at Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport, about 21m before the head of the runway, an investigation report said. The hard landing damaged three runway lights, but none of the personnel on board sustained any injuries, the report said. When approaching the runway, the copilot failed to maintain
DISTRUST WARRANTED? The WHO is under China’s control and has become a useless organization, while data from China cannot be trusted, a Control Yuan member said China’s demand that the novel coronavirus that emerged in Wuhan, Hubei Province, not be referred to with names like the “Wuhan pneumonia” betrays its lack of confidence in itself, Premier Su Tseng-chang (蘇貞昌) told lawmakers yesterday. Democratic Progressive Party Legislator Tsai Yi-yu (蔡易餘) asked Su, during a interpellation at the Legislative Yuan in Taipei, for his view on China’s attempts to redeem its national image in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. These included China’s efforts to “bleach” its image, including having WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus publicly praise its handling of the COVID-19 outbreak, and thanking it for buying time
REPEAT OFFENDER: The man went outside for exercise on Wednesday and then left his home on Saturday with his girlfriend, officials said A New Taipei City man has been fined NT$400,000 (US$13,221) and ordered into government quarantine after breaking home quarantine for a second time on Saturday. The 25-year-old man, surnamed Chen (陳) returned to Taiwan on Sunday last week and was ordered to home quarantine until Sunday. He was seen leaving his home on a scooter with his girlfriend on Saturday, three days after he was fined NT$200,000 for going outside to exercise, police said. Chen has now been placed in a quarantine center arranged by the district office and health center of the district where he lives, police said. Police warned the public
Taipei residents who stay at hotels in the city during their 14-day mandatory quarantine period are eligible to apply for the city’s NT$7,000 subsidy, with online applications to be launched next week. Taipei Deputy Mayor Vivian Huang (黃珊珊) on Monday said Taipei residents who have COVID-19 Health Declaration and Home Quarantine Notice dated after March 19 and a quarantine hotel receipt for the dates covered by the quarantine period, would be eligible for the subsidy. The Taipei City Government on Sunday told the Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) that so many city residents are under home quarantine that about 90 percent of