Beijing yesterday reduced a flight restriction period it announced within the Taipei Flight Information Region (FIR) from three days to less than 30 minutes following protests from Taiwanese civil aviation officials, the Ministry of Transportation and Communications said yesterday.
The Chinese Civil Aviation Administration on Tuesday notified the Civil Aeronautics Administration (CAA) that it would set up a flight restriction zone within the Taipei FIR to engage in “aeronautic activities” between 9am and 2pm from Sunday to Tuesday next week, the ministry said.
The notice was sent only one day after the Chinese People’s Liberation Army ended military exercises around Taiwan. China launched the drills after President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) met with US House of Representatives Speaker Kevin McCarthy in California on Wednesday last week.
Photo courtesy of the Ministry of Transportation and Communications
Taiwan regulates the air traffic inside the Taipei FIR, which is a hub for northbound and southbound flight routes in East Asia and a main gateway to the northwest Pacific, the ministry said.
“However, China unilaterally set up a flight restriction zone spanning multiple flight routes within the Taipei FIR over three days. Not only is the move unprecedented in the international community, but it would also disrupt flight management in the region and affect flight safety,” it said.
The ministry notified Chinese officials that “such a unilateral and unreasonable move will pose tremendous and unnecessary flight risks, and affect international flights passing through the region.”
It said it protested the move and asked Chinese officials to change their plans.
China yesterday notified Taiwan that its aeronautic activities had been rescheduled to between 9:30am and 9:57am on Sunday, the ministry said.
Reuters reported that Beijing has told Seoul that a falling object related to a launch vehicle is set to land north of Taiwan in a 27-minute window on Sunday, citing a South Korean official.
“As a responsible member of the international community, we will coordinate with civil aviation officials in other countries to make necessary adjustments to flight routes and ensure flight safety,” it said.
The ministry also showed on a map the area where the aeronautic activities would be held.
The Ministry of National Defense said the area is about 85 nautical miles (157km) off the north coast of Taiwan.
A Reuters report estimated that Beijing’s decision could affect 60 to 70 percent of flights between East Asia and Southeast Asia.
EVA Airways and China Airlines said they would follow instructions from the CAA and adjust their flight routes if necessary.
Taoyuan International Airport Corp said it is monitoring flight control information and has reserved aircraft parking space in case of an emergency.
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