Taiwan is to begin operating direct flights to Madrid and Barcelona as the nation has completed negotiations on an aviation pact with Spain, a source within the Ministry of Transportation and Communications said on Tuesday.
Details of the agreement were announced in a report published by the Chinese-language Economic Daily News on Sunday.
When asked to comment on the report, an official involved in the negotiations refused to give further details, but said negotiations had been ongoing for a while.
When asked if any particular airline has pushed for the routes, the official said that “they simply follow their plan.”
The ministry source told the Taipei Times that Taipei and Madrid have also signed a confidentiality agreement on the matter.
According to the Economic Daily News report, the breakthrough came about because of a gradual increase in cross-strait flights in recent years, which proved to the Spanish government that there would not be any political issues if it signs an aviation agreement with Taiwan.
The report said that Taiwan is to operate 14 direct flights to Madrid and Barcelona per week.
Unlike flight routes to London, Rome or Paris, which are operated by only one Taiwanese carrier, both China Airlines (CAL) and EVA Airways can apply to operate flights to either one of the Spanish cities, the report said.
CAL operates direct flights to Amsterdam, Rome, Frankfurt and Vienna.
EVA operates direct flights to London, Amsterdam and Vienna. Passengers heading to either one of the Spanish cities have to take flights operated by European or other Asian carriers and transfer in Hong Kong or Singapore.
CAL earlier this week said that the airline would begin building a market by first offering co-share flights with Air Europa, the third-largest airline in Spain.
Passengers departing from Taiwan would board flights offered by CAL to Amsterdam or Frankfurt and transfer to the co-share flights offered by Air Europa to Barcelona or Madrid, the airline said.
EVA said it would have to do further research on the market and evaluate the possibility of launching direct services.
Industry experts also see the new services as a way to improve competitiveness of the two Taiwanese airlines, particularly when they are facing strong competition from other Asian carriers offering flights from Taiwan to Europe.
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