Airlines look to expand direct flights between mainland, Taiwan

21:08, March 16, 2010      

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Direct flights between the Chinese mainland and Taiwan could be expanded in some major Chinese cities, a senior advisor to the China Air Transport Association (CATA) said Tuesday.

Some 3.88 million people had taken the direct flights between the Chinese mainland and Taiwan from Dec. 31, 2008, to the end of February, said Xia Xinghua.

Mainland airline companies carried about 1.55 million passengers while the rest were transported by the Taiwan carriers.

"About 77 percent of seats on cross-Strait passenger flights were sold on average," Xia told a symposium attended by about 60 senior officials of the airline operators across the Taiwan Strait.

About 85,386 tonnes of goods were also transported by the cross-Strait direct flights.

Xia said the figures showed the direct links between the mainland and Taiwan had made the cross-Strait travel much easier, expanded exchanges and given fresh impetus to the peaceful development of relations.

Xia expected airline companies in Taiwan to expand their services to big cities outside Beijing and Shanghai where Taiwan business people were relatively concentrated.

The passenger flow in cities including Chengdu, Kunming and Tianjin was noticeable, but the flights there were not enough, Xia said.

Xia's expansion call was echoed by Chan hsiung-Chih, leading deputy general manager of Uni Air, a Taiwan airline company. Chan said these cities were great in potential and the company was analyzing plans to operate in cities in central and western provinces on the mainland.

Airlines operate 270 direct flights weekly, connecting 31 terminals on the mainland, including Beijing, Shanghai and Hangzhou, with the island.

The mainland and Taiwan added 88 cross-Strait flights during the last Spring Festival holiday beginning on Feb. 14 to better deal with the travel rush.

Extra flights might also be added to cope with another possible travel rush during the World Expo 2010 in Shanghai from May 1 to Oct. 31, Xia said at the conference, without giving further details.

The mainland and Taiwan began direct air and sea transport links and postal services on Dec. 15, 2008. Previously, air and sea connections, including mail, were routed through a third location, usually Hong Kong.

In November 2008, the mainland and Taiwan agreed to launch regular passenger charter flights across the strait. Before that, flights were offered on weekends and during the four major Chinese traditional festivals -- the Spring Festival, Tomb-Sweeping Day, Dragon Boat Festival and the Mid-Autumn Festival.

Source: Xinhua
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