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Old April 18th, 2006, 09:55 PM   #221
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Taiwan not ruling out cross-strait charter flights in late May - report
18 April 2006
Xinhua Financial Network (XFN) News

TAIPEI (XFN-ASIA) - Taiwan does not rule out the possibility of more charter flights in late May if negotiations with China can be completed in time, the United Daily News reported, citing Joseph Wu, chairman of the Mainland Affairs Council (MAC).

Taiwan and China now have a greater degree of consensus on allowing charter flights to allow Taiwan businesspeople to return home for the three most important holidays in the Chinese lunar calendar, he said.

These are the Lunar New Year, Moon Festival and Dragon Boat Festival, which this year falls on May 31.

From late January through early February, Taiwan and China airlines provided charter flights to bring Taiwan passengers on the mainland home for the Lunar New Year holidays. The charter flights were nonstop but were required to fly over Hong Kong airspace as "direct flights" across the Taiwan Strait continue to be banned.

Wu said more is to be done to allow more Chinese nationals to come to Taiwan for sightseeing, even though Beijing has officially unveiled a package on this subject.

China has yet to formally designate Taiwan as a permitted destination for sightseeing, and the two sides have yet to hold consultations and work out related details, he said.

Separately, Wu said the government here will not allow Beijing to infringe upon its authority by unilaterally designating travel agencies on the island to receive inbound tourists from the mainland.
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Old June 4th, 2006, 05:41 PM   #222
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TAIWAN PRESS: China Charter Flights To Be 38 Flights/Week
4 June 2006

TAIPEI (Dow Jones)--Taiwan and China agreed in principle to start operating regular passenger and cargo charter flights four days a week before China's National Day holiday in October, the Commercial Times reported Saturday, citing unnamed sources.

There will be a total of 38 round-trip charter flights each week from Friday to Monday, the paper said.

Joseph Wu, chairman of the Cabinet-level Mainland Affairs Council, told Dow Jones Newswires Friday that Taiwan is talking to China about regular passenger and cargo charter flights.

But Wu said he couldn't disclose details of the talks.

Taiwan and China split in a civil war in 1949, and Taiwan has banned direct contacts between the two sides since then.

Currently, people from Taiwan have to pass through a third location, usually Hong or Macau, when they travel to China.

Taiwan and China did have special flights for Taiwanese investors in China during the Lunar Chinese New Year holiday in 2003, 2005 and 2006, but the planes still had to fly through Hong Kong's air space.
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Old June 14th, 2006, 07:15 PM   #223
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Cathay Pacific Shares Unmoved By Taiwan-China Flights
13 June 2006

HONG KONG (Dow Jones)--Shares of Cathay Pacific Airways Ltd. (0293.HK) rose slightly Wednesday as investors shrugged off news Taiwan will allow more frequent direct charter flights between the island and mainland China.

Taiwan said it will allow direct charter flights across the strait with China during four annual holidays, a slight increase from previously limited services during Chinese New Year, but hardly enough to pose a threat to Cathay's strong business picking up China-bound passengers in Taiwan.

Cathay's shares were up 0.4% at HK$13.80 at 0330 GMT.

Hong Kong is the top transit point for passengers traveling between China and Taiwan, which aren't connected by regularly scheduled direct flights due to their decades-old political standoff.

That has made Hong Kong-Taipei one of the world's busiest passenger routes. It is believed to be Cathay's most profitable route.

Analysts said it is still too early to determine whether such flights will take place.

"Sometimes the mainland offers to start those flights, but the Taiwanese decline the offer," said Alan Lam, an analyst at Guotai Junan Securities Ltd. "We don't yet know whether the Chinese side will accept the proposition."

Even if such flights come about, Lam said they would still be subject to many limits, including capacity constraints.

Shares of China's three main carriers - likely beneficiaries of the agreement - rose in early trading.

At 0330 GMT, flag carrier Air China Ltd. (0753.HK) had jumped 4.3% to HK$3.03, China Eastern Airlines Ltd. (CEA) had gained 1.9% to HK$1.09 and China Southern Airlines Co. (ZNH) had risen 1.8% to HK$1.71.

"The agreement could definitely benefit mainland carriers, as slots for charter flights in the past have been evenly divided between Chinese and Taiwanese airlines," said Lam.
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Old June 15th, 2006, 05:40 AM   #224
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Cross-strait air links agreement met with caution
Airlines, travel firms say holidays deal won't have big impact

15 June 2006
South China Morning Post

Reaction has been muted to yesterday's announcement that Taipei and Beijing have agreed to allow direct flights for cargo and passenger flights during major holidays.

Airlines were cautious and travel agencies said the move would do little to increase their business.

Both Cathay Pacific Airways and Dragonair said they would closely monitor developments.

"This marks a logical step forward in developing a charter regime between the mainland and Taiwan," a Cathay Pacific spokeswoman said.

"Given the number of flights involved, we do not expect it to have a significant impact on traffic through the Hong Kong hub."

A Dragonair spokesman also said the cross-strait arrangement should not have a serious impact on the airline "as such flights are only operated when there is demand above normal capacity".

Hong Kong General Chamber of Commerce chief economist David O'Rear said the agreement's impact on passenger and cargo traffic should be minimal.

He said there was only a modest pick-up in traffic during the main holiday periods, while cargo business was not significant on holidays.

In Taiwan, carriers and tourist agencies were lukewarm.

China Airlines and EVA Airways welcomed the new measure, while other airlines said what they wanted most was a regular cargo charter service.

"The permission for mainland-based businessmen to air-ship their plant facilities and related components to and from the mainland would do little to help increase our business," said an official.

He said most of the time passenger charter service would lose money as passenger numbers would not cover operational costs.

He said access airports were limited to just Shanghai, Beijing, Xiamen and Guangzhou, preventing passengers taking the flights from other airports.

However, Lieh Kuo-wei, vice-president of EVA, welcomed the new measure, saying it represented "big progress" in cross-strait transport links.

Taipei-based China Airlines' spokesman Jonathan Sun Hung-wen said the announcement was good news for his company and the airline would apply to operate charter services on the Mid-Autumn Festival holiday.

Taiwan's Kuomintang and fellow opposition group the People First Party (PFP), however, criticised the government for "fooling the public".

"We don't see any real benefit for businessmen and airline operators here," said Lee Hung-chun, the PFP's legislative caucus leader.

He said what Taiwan needed was full direct transport links.

"If we continue to drag on the issue of the cross-strait direct transport links, we only stand to lose our market to other countries," he warned.
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Old June 17th, 2006, 05:20 AM   #225
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U.S. welcomes Taiwan-China aviation deal
15 June 2006

WASHINGTON (AP) - The United States said Thursday it welcomes an agreement between Taiwan and China to increase charter flights across the Taiwan Strait.

"The agreement is an important step forward in boosting cross-Strait contacts, which are in the interest of the people on both sides of the Strait," the State Department said in a statement.

Officials said Wednesday that Taiwan and China would allow charter flights during four major holidays -- not just during the Lunar New Year as has been the policy. Some analysts said the move could be a big step toward Taiwan lifting a five-decade ban on regular air service between the rivals, who split amid civil war in 1949.

Taiwanese in China currently have to fly to Hong Kong or Macau to change planes before they travel on to Taiwan.
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Old June 24th, 2006, 07:14 AM   #226
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Taiwan-China politics: Flight plan
26 June 2006
Economist Intelligence Unit - Business Asia

More cross-Strait flights are announced, but politics will continue to complicate economic co-operation between Taiwan and China

Taiwan and China on June 14th announced plans to expand their limited direct aviation links, by increasing the frequency of cross-Strait passenger flights and by introducing chartered cross-Strait cargo flights for the first time. The new arrangements mark another small step towards the possible eventual establishment of full cross-Strait transport services, and the new cargo flights, in particular, could provide a modest boost to Taiwanese manufacturers with factories in China.

But the creation of more permanent two-way trade and transport links still faces severe political obstacles—most notably Taiwan’s suspicion of integration with China, and Beijing’s refusal to deal on a government-to-government basis with Taipei. As ever, the issue of cross-Strait trade and transport links will remain heavily politicised.

The new flights are the latest in a series of measures in the past three years liberalising (albeit slightly) cross-Strait travel. These steps are gradually becoming more ambitious. The process started in January 2003, when Taiwanese aircraft were temporarily allowed to make cross-Strait passenger flights during the lunar New Year holiday, marking the first time since 1949 that any commercial cross-Strait flights had been authorised (although planes still had to land in Hong Kong or Macau en route). That historic step was built on in 2005 with the first non-stop flights (although a diversion through Hong Kong airspace was still necessary) and the participation of Chinese airlines for the first time.

The latest agreement, announced almost simultaneously by Taiwan’s Mainland Affairs Council (MAC) and China’s General Administration of Civil Aviation, extends the passenger flights to cover four major holiday periods (instead of just one previously). A total of 168 return charter flights will now be permitted each year, with the first flights under the new scheme expected to start as soon as the mid-autumn festival in October.

In addition, it appears that Taiwanese-invested companies on the mainland will be able, for the first time, to apply for permission to use chartered cargo flights to transport equipment across the Taiwan Strait. However, each application will be considered on a case-by-case basis. Chartered cargo flights will also be allowed for emergency and humanitarian purposes.

Clearly, the latest agreement falls a long way short of full normalisation of cross-Strait aviation links, which is the ultimate goal both of China’s leadership in Beijing and of the many in Taiwan who support closer economic integration. Some critics of the agreement—particularly critics of the president, Chen Shui-bian—are likely to argue that the latest air pact is little more than a smokescreen to divert attention from Mr Chen’s domestic political difficulties (including an insider-trading scandal involving his son-in-law and opposition-led moves for a recall vote on Mr Chen’s presidency). The passenger flights still cover only four holidays, whereas critics have said passenger flights will not really be useful until they are scheduled regularly at weekends. The vast majority of business travellers between Taiwan and China, for instance, still have to stop over in destinations like Hong Kong, a situation that clearly wastes time and money.

Although it appears, from the sketchy reports so far, that the cargo flights will be allowed at any time of the year, the fact that each flight will require special permission suggests the new arrangement will in no way be viable as a primary means of conducting trade. Just as they argue that the plan for passenger flights does not go far enough, Taiwanese critics of the island’s pro-independence-leaning government are also likely to call for far more cargo flights. An article on the Taipei Times website suggests the MAC hopes that the cargo and passenger flights will soon take place “almost daily”. Even if this occurs, the need for case-by-case authorisation for cargo flights—assuming this is still a requirement—will make heavy volumes of trade unfeasible all the same.

Rather, the groundbreaking part of the new arrangement is the way it looks likely, to some extent, to institutionalise the travel framework that already exists. Making cross-Strait passenger flights a regular occurrence four times a year could reduce or eliminate the long negotiations required in the past. Also, if the new arrangement is successful, it could set the stage for further and more formal liberalisation of transport links in the future.

Politics, of course, is almost certain to intervene in some way. Cross-Strait relations are a key ideological and tactical battleground for Taiwan’s political parties. Opportunistic skirmishing over the issue looks especially likely given the current volatility in the island’s political scene. Taiwanese legislators voted on June 12th to consider a recall motion against Mr Chen. Sensing a chance to unseat Mr Chen, the opposition parties are likely to raise the tempo of their efforts to discredit the president. These efforts could include attempting to portray the aviation plan as an effort by the ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) to undermine moves by the main opposition Kuomintang (KMT) to improve trade links with China; since 2005 the KMT has been discussing cross-Strait links with officials on the mainland.

Although the positions of both the DPP and the KMT on cross-Strait co-operation are complex, in broad terms the pro-independence DPP is more wary of rapid normalisation of two-way links, fearing that China is attempting to undermine Taiwan’s sovereignty and draw the island into Beijing’s orbit by fostering economic dependence on China’s markets. The DPP still recognises the political appeal to voters of supporting cautious cross-Strait integration, mindful of the potential economic benefits. But its position contrasts with that of the KMT, which is bolder in wanting to open direct links with China to boost tourism and invigorate other aspects of Taiwan’s service sector.
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Old June 28th, 2006, 10:59 PM   #227
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Cross-strait medevac flights start
28 June 2006
South China Morning Post

Hainan Airlines subsidiary Deer Jet and medical services provider International SOS yesterday began offering direct emergency medical flights between the mainland and Taiwan.

Mainland and Taiwanese authorities gave regulatory permission for direct emergency flights across the Taiwan Strait earlier this month, but the Deer Jet-SOS charter venture is the first to take off.

Deer Jet, which has a fleet of seven aircraft and has been trying to expand business charter flights on the mainland, said the service could ferry patients from either the mainland or Taiwan.

Deer Jet chairman Du Xiaoping said official procedures for the service were the same as any other direct flight and specially equipped aircraft had been set aside to pick up patients from any airport on the mainland or Taiwan, air traffic control permitting.

"There were no restrictions on medical charter flights in the framework agreed by the mainland and Taiwan," Mr Du said.
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Old July 7th, 2006, 04:27 PM   #228
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Taiwan allows air carriers to fly cargo charters to and from Chinese mainland
7 July 2006

TAIPEI, Taiwan (AP) - Taiwan on Friday gave the green light to the island's air carriers to fly cargo charters to and from the Chinese mainland, the Civil Aeronautics Administration said.

The CAA said it would also accept applications from mainland carriers to fly cargo charters from China to Taiwan and back to the mainland, and allow carriers from the two sides to conduct emergency medical flights in both directions.

The moves represent a slight improvement in relations between the long time rivals, which for the past several years have been characterized by mutual invective and distrust. The sides split amid civil war in 1949.

Under the new regulations Taiwanese and Chinese carriers would be allowed to ship equipment and components utilized by mainland factories established by Taiwanese companies, the administration said.

It said applications would be approved on a case by case basis effective immediately.

The CAA announcement follows a June 14 agreement between China and Taiwan on the cargo issue.

That agreement also extended passenger charter flights between Taiwan and the mainland from the Chinese lunar New Year period to other major holidays.

Taiwan has banned regular direct flights between the two sides since they split when the Communists took over the mainland and Taiwan began resisting Beijing's rule.

Analysts believe a full opening of the lucrative Chinese cargo market -- beyond the new arrangement -- could provide significant profits for Taiwan's two largest carriers, China Airlines and EVA Airways Corp.

With a combined fleet of 35 freighters, they derive about 45 percent of their profits from cargo operations and rank among the world's top ten cargo carriers by capacity

China's four top cargo carriers have a combined fleet of 30 freighters.
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Old July 14th, 2006, 04:21 PM   #229
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Taiwan's EVA Air secures approval for Shanghai Airlines Cargo investment

TAIPEI, July 14, 2006 (AFP) - Taiwan's EVA Airways said Friday it had obtained approval from the Investment Commission to acquire a 25 percent stake in Shanghai Airlines Cargo for 3.88 million US dollars.

"EVA Air is eyeing the booming cargo market on the mainland. Airliners there are eager to expand capacity to handle more cargo shipment," an EVA Air spokesman said.

He said EVA Air would buy the 25 percent stake from Sino Prime Ltd., one of Shanghai Airlines Cargo's founding shareholders.

China's Shanghai Airlines holds a 55 percent stake in Shanghai Airlines Cargo, he said.

The investment is pending regulatory approval from Chinese authorities, the spokesman said.

With or without government approval, Taiwan companies have funnelled an estimated 100-150 billion dollars into mainland China for various investment projects over the years despite cross-strait political rivalry.

China replaced the United States as Taiwan's largest market in November 2002 and is the favorite destination of the island's investors.
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Old July 19th, 2006, 02:12 AM   #230
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Taiwan's China Air To Fly Cargo Charter To Shanghai
17 July 2006

TAIPEI (AP)--A Taiwanese carrier is set to fly the island's first cargo charter to the Chinese mainland this week, an airline official said Monday.

The China Airlines (2610.TW) B747-400 will depart Taipei on Wednesday night for the three-hour direct flight to Shanghai, said Charles Chen, an official with the airline.

Taiwan considers the communist mainland its biggest security threat and has banned direct flights to and from China since they split amid civil war in 1949.

But thriving trade between the two neighbors in the past decade forced authorities to agree to launch limited direct cargo flights last month.

Under the new regulations, Taiwanese and Chinese carriers are only allowed to ship equipment and components utilized by mainland factories established by Taiwanese companies.

On Wednesday, the China Airlines plane will carry equipment from Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. (5425.OT) to the chip factory it established in Shanghai, officials said.

The direct flights could save expenses and also avoid damage to the fragile, high-tech equipment and components by skipping the additional touchdowns in Hong Kong or other ports, they said.

A full opening of the lucrative Chinese cargo market - beyond the new arrangement - could provide significant profits for Taiwan's two largest carriers, China Airlines and EVA Airways Corp. (2618.TW).

With a combined fleet of 35 planes, the two derive about 45% of their profits from cargo operations and rank among the world's top 10 cargo carriers by capacity.

China's four top cargo carriers have a combined fleet of 30 planes.
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Old July 19th, 2006, 06:14 PM   #231
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Taiwan airline launches first cargo charter to Chinese mainland
19 July 2006

TAIPEI, Taiwan (AP) - Taiwan's largest air carrier on Wednesday launched the first direct cargo flight between the island and China since 1949, signaling a small but important breakthrough between the longtime rivals.

A China Airlines B747-400 departed Taipei for Shanghai after 10:10 p.m. (1410 GMT), carrying equipment for a chip factory established by Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. in the eastern Chinese city.
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Old August 30th, 2006, 01:38 AM   #232
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Cambodian airline to launch Taiwan-China flights
21 August 2006

TAIPEI, Taiwan (AP) - Angkor Airways, a Cambodian carrier, will soon launch flights between Taiwan and China, using Phnom Penh as a transit point, the airline said on Monday.

Beginning Sept. 7, Angkor will fly three times a week between Taipei and the western Chinese city of Chengdu, airline official Thomas Chang said.

Angkor Airways hopes to cash in on the growing market for travel between Taiwan and China, with the new flights offering passengers an alternative route, he said.

Taiwan and China have barred official contacts and direct flights since the two sides split amid civil war in 1949.

But trade and travel have thrived. Most Taiwanese travel to China by way of Hong Kong or Macau, which are Chinese territories not directly governed by Beijing.

Angkor Airways also flies between Phnom Penh, the Cambodian capital, and Angkor Wat, a cluster of legendary temples built in the 12th century.

Chang said several Taiwanese travel agents plan to take advantage of the new flights by offering group tours to Angkor Wat and to Sichuan province's Jiuzhaigou, which is known for scenic mountains, lakes and waterfalls.

Angkor's flights could later be extended to other Chinese cities including Chongqing and Kunming, he added.
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Old September 24th, 2006, 05:24 AM   #233
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China Airlines to cash in on festival rush

Hui Ching-hoo
20 September 2006
China Daily - Hong Kong Edition

Taiwan-based carrier China Airlines pins high hopes on the long vacation of the Mid-Autumn Festival and National Day holidays. Michael Wu, general manager, Hong Kong branch, told China Daily it would operate 28 extra flights from Hong Kong to Taipei and Kaohsiung to cash in on the passengers' upsurge during the peak season.

"Mid-autumn festival this year falls in the long vacation of National Day. We wish there will be a lot of Taiwanese businessmen flying back to Taiwan for
family gatherings," Wu said.

The 28 extra flights will provide up to 6,800 seats. "We raised throughput capacity as compared to last year," said Wu. Apart from increasing the number of flights, China Airlines will deploy more resources such as opening more check-in counters to cope with the festival rush, he added.

China Airlines has collaborated with transportation companies to offer "one-stop" service for its clients.

"A Dongguan Taiwanese can check in at Dongguan railway station, and then his luggage will be directly transferred to his flight," Wu said.

Besides, there had been progress in the direct links between Taiwan and the mainland in the past years, he said.

Now, Taiwanese are allowed to charter planes to Taiwan on some special occasions such as Chinese New Year. Getting travel visa for the mainlanders to visit Taiwan has also become easier.

"Direct communication is necessary in the light of strong market demand and it has to carry out in phases..." said Wu.

"But I don't want to make any guess on the timetable because it involves many complicated issues. However, it certainly is a win-win situation for aviation business for both the places."

Wu also dispelled anxiety that Hong Kong's status as a transshipment hub will not be shaken following the free communication between the mainland and Taiwan. "The pie actually is growing bigger. Hong Kong is still the first choice for the hundreds of thousands of Taiwan businesspeople stationed in southern region of the mainland," he said.

Hong Kong-Taiwan is one of the main routes for China Airlines, which currently accounts for about 30 per cent of total market share. Wu, however, admitted the route was nearing saturation point.

"We will be very delighted if the route can reap single-digit growth because of the limited passenger pool and rigorous competition," he said.

"But we will continue our efforts to lure corporate clients to take our flights," he added.

The airlines also plans to shore up its coordination with Hong Kong travel agents and online ticket-booking services.

"Those are the areas which still have room to explore... For instance, the online service has become more convenient due to the boom in teenage travellers. We have to gear up to seize the opportunity," Wu said.

Talking about oil hike, Wu pointed out that the company has streamlined many operation processes to minimize the impact. "The ratio of oil costs soared from 20 per cent two years ago to the current 30 to 40 per cent."

To tackle the problem, China Airlines has set up special divisions last year. "The divisions monitor every aspect of our operation to ensure they run under
most effective condition. With their assistance, we saved about US$380,000 last year," he said.

Wu, however, dismissed the challenge from low-cost carriers (LOCs). "Services of the LOCs cannot compete with conventional carriers. Also, the advantage on cheap tickets is not that obvious in long-haul flights," he said. China Airlines currently owns 67 aircraft and it will continue to increase the fleet. "We plan to buy two Boeing cargo flights at the end of the year and next year."
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Old October 5th, 2006, 02:58 AM   #234
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Taiwan, China resume direct flights for holiday season

TAIPEI, Sept 29 (Reuters) - A charter plane left Taipei for Shanghai on Friday morning to kick off a 10-day Mid-Autumn Festival travel season in Taiwan and China, which seldom allow direct flights because of deep political differences.

The Eva Air flight, which was almost filled to capacity, was expected back later in the day with every seat occupied, largely by Taiwan business people, an airline spokesman said.

About 1 million Taiwan citizens work or live in China. Travellers previously had to change flights in Hong Kong or Macau to return home for the traditional holiday.

Another 47 flights involving six airlines from Taiwan and six from China will cross the straits before Oct. 8.

For security reasons, the flights must fly via Hong Kong air space, without landing, while travelling between Taipei or Kaohsiung in Taiwan and Beijing, Guangzhou, Shanghai and Xiamen.

Taiwan has banned direct air links with China since their split in 1949 after a civil war, with Taipei concerned that easy travel links could undermine its security and immigration rules.

The two sides exchanged landmark non-stop charter flights for the first time in more than 50 years during the Lunar New Year Festival of January and February 2005.

In June China and Taiwan agreed to regular direct passenger flights during four traditional holiday seasons every year. Taiwan will allow special emergency medical and humanitarian aid charter flights as well as direct cargo flights on a case-by-case basis, the two sides decided.

China views Taiwan as a part of its territory and has threatened the use of force if the self-ruled island formally declares independence.
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Old February 1st, 2007, 08:36 PM   #235
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Taiwan, China make progress over talks on flights

TAIPEI, Feb 1, 2007 (AFP) - Taipei and Beijing have made progress in talks for a further relaxation on cross-strait charter flights to allow more tourists from China to visit Taiwan, an official said Thursday.

"We have made progress on some points, while others are yet to be discussed," said an official from the Mainland Affairs Council (MAC) that charts Taiwan's policy towards the mainland.

"We hope an agreement can be achieved soon but there is no timetable."

They are also discussing whether to allow Taiwan and mainland tourists to take regular passenger charter flights. Current regulations permit only Taiwan businesspeople and their families across the strait during major holidays.

As for non-holiday flights, "we are talking about charter flights during busiest times," the MAC official said.

Direct air links across the Taiwan Strait are barred at present, with non-stop charter flights required to fly over Hong Kong airspace.

Frequent charter cargo flights are also on the discussion list.

The remarks came barely two weeks before six airlines each from Taiwan and China are slated to provide a total of 96 cross-strait passenger charter flights during February 13-26 for the Lunar New Year holiday period.

Direct links have been cut since China and Taiwan's split in 1949 at the end of a civil war.
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Old February 7th, 2007, 04:02 AM   #236
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Taiwan expects pact on air links, Chinese tourist visits

TAIPEI, Feb 4, 2007 (AFP) - A Taiwanese government official Sunday said he was optimistic about an agreement with Beijing soon over a relaxation of limits on cross-strait charter flights.

"I'm optimistically expecting (an agreement)" between the two sides, Tung Chen-yuan, deputy chairman of the Mainland Affairs Council, told AFP.

At the centre of the negotiations is how to ease current rules that limit visits from mainland Chinese to those who are extending their travel from elsewhere and those with overseas student or overseas permanent resident status.

Talks also touched on whether to allow Taiwanese and mainland tourists to take regular passenger charter flights.

The two sides are separately represented in the negotiations by authorised civil bodies as China refuses to make official contact with Taiwan.

Current regulations permit only Taiwan businesspeople and their families to fly across the strait, and only during major holidays.

Tung said Beijing had intentionally delayed the talks late last year due to what he said could be China's political considerations, referring to December's Taipei and Kaohsiung mayoral elections in Taiwan.

As Taiwan will stage parliamentary polls late this year, Tung said the first half of 2007 should be a good time for the two sides to forge an agreement on air transportation and Taiwan visits by Chinese tourists.

"The first half of this year should be the window of opportunities," he said.

Hopefully, 1,000 Chinese tourists will be allowed to visit Taiwan each day, he said.

Direct air links across the Taiwan Strait are barred at present, with non-stop charter flights required to fly over Hong Kong airspace.

Frequent chartered cargo flights are also on the discussion list.

Six airlines each from Taiwan and China are slated to provide a total of 96 cross-strait passenger charter flights during February 13-26 for the Lunar New Year holiday period.

Direct links have been cut since China and Taiwan's split in 1949 at the end of a civil war.
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Old February 28th, 2007, 08:37 AM   #237
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Taiwan may allow expanded number of Chinese tourists by way of charter flights
26 February 2007

TAIPEI, Taiwan (AP) - Taiwan may permit an expansion of charter flights from rival China, paving the way for an increase in the number of Chinese tourists who visit the island, President Chen Shui-bian said on Monday.

The sides have been negotiating the tourist issue for more than a year in an attempt to allow as many as 365,000 Chinese visitors to come to Taiwan annually -- almost 10 times the current number.

A major sticking point has been Taiwan's refusal to accept a Chinese condition that visitors arrive on direct charter flights from the mainland.

Regular commercial flights have been banned since the sides split amid civil war in 1949, and direct charter flights are confined to major holidays -- including the just concluded Lunar New Year. The charters are off-limits to non-Taiwanese.

Speaking to a group of mainland-based Taiwanese business people Monday, Chen said that a change in policy on mainland visitors could be coming soon.

"We have aggressively negotiated with the Chinese side and hope the cross-Strait charter flights can be expanded under the condition that our economic power and national security will not be undermined," Chen said.

"We hope there will be more frequent and convenient arrangements ... so mainland ... tourists can also take the charter flights," he said.

He added that there was a "positive development" in recent negotiations, but did not elaborate.

Taiwanese businesses hope charter flights can bring a larger number of Chinese to spur the sagging local tourism industry.

An estimated three million Taiwanese travel to China each year, mostly via Hong Kong.
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Old March 20th, 2007, 10:13 AM   #238
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New direct charter flights between China, Taiwan to begin March 30, China says
19 March 2007

BEIJING (AP) - China announced a new round of charter flights with Taiwan on Monday in an effort to temporarily skirt a ban on direct transport links between the historical rivals.

Eleven Chinese and Taiwanese carriers will fly 42 round trips through April 8 to coincide with the traditional grave sweeping festival, the official Xinhua News Agency said.

Flights will service Taiwan's capital Taipei and southern metropolis of Kaohsiung, and Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou, and Xiamen on the Chinese side.

The flights were agreed to last year during negotiations between private aviation associations, required because China refuses to recognize Taiwan's government or deal with it directly.

Taiwan has banned direct scheduled commercial flights since the sides split amid civil war in 1949, but direct charter flights have been gradually expanding to cater to the needs of Taiwanese residents of the mainland, although they remain confined to major holidays -- including last month's Lunar New Year. The charters are off-limits to non-Taiwanese.

Taiwan's government is considering an expansion of charters to allow Chinese tourists to fly directly to the island, instead of by way of third countries as they are required to do so now.

Under pressure from the domestic tourist industry, Taiwan has been looking for way to expand the number of Chinese tourists allowed to visit the island each year to 365,000, almost 10 times the current number.
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Old June 21st, 2007, 07:26 AM   #239
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Taiwan, China agree on technical issues of cross-strait travel; talks still on
20 June 2007

TAIPEI (XFN-ASIA) - Taipei and Beijing have reached consensus on most technical issues involved in further relaxing their rules over cross-strait cargo charter flights, passenger charter flights and direct travel by mainland Chinese sight-seeing tourists to the island, Taiwan's Mainland Affairs Council (MAC) said.

However, a few more areas need to be ironed out for an official accord to be reached, it said.

An official with MAC, which oversees Taiwan's relations with mainland China, said: 'Our chairman (Chen Ming-tung) said that both sides have reached consensus on most of the technical issues regarding these (matters), while a few are yet to be discussed.'

The official, who requested anonymity, did not elaborate on the technical issues agreed upon.

Representatives from both sides are continuing their negotiations and the MAC hopes that a decision can be made as soon as possible, the official said, adding that no timetable has been set for the decisions.

Among the issues regarding passenger charter flights that have yet to be agreed upon is whether to extend the current holiday-only services to a weekly peak period, or from Friday afternoon until Sunday, the official added.

In June 2006, Taipei and Beijing announced a decision to allow Taiwanese airlines and their mainland counterparts to operate charter flights for passenger charter services during the Lunar New Year, Tomb Sweeping Festival, Dragon Boat Festival and the Mid-Autumn Festival holidays.

The non-stop passenger charter flights, however, currently need to fly over Hong Kong air space.

At the moment, special cargo flights are available only for Taiwanese businesses to transport their machinery, equipment, components and parts for their production plants on the mainland.

Businesses are also able to bring back their machinery and equipment to Taiwan through the special cargo flights, although they are done on a case-by-case basis.

Currently, only Chinese citizens who extend their travel from other destinations and those with overseas student visas or permanent resident status overseas qualify for entry as tourists into Taiwan.
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Old September 10th, 2007, 07:14 PM   #240
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Taiwan's China Airlines to provide Moon Festival charter flights

TAIPEI, Sept 10, 2007 (AFP) - Taiwan's leading carrier China Airlines (CAL) and unit Mandarin Airlines would offer four round-trip charter flights to Shanghai during the upcoming Moon Festival, a CAL spokesman said Monday.

The two carriers would use Boeing 747-400S to fly between Taipei and Shanghai between September 22 and September 30, the spokesman said.

The Moon Festival, also known as Mid-Autumn Festival, falls on September 25.

"The scheduled flights are 80-90 percent booked. We are pleased by the demand," he added.

Under an agreement signed between China and Taiwan, six carriers from each side are allowed to provide non-stop charter passenger services during the Lunar New Year, Tomb Sweeping Festival, Dragon Boat Festival and the Mid-Autumn Festival.

The relaxation was meant to transport the Taiwanese who are working on the mainland and their families home for the holidays.

Cross-strait direct transport links have been banned since China and Taiwan split at the end of a civil war im 1949, forcing all air and sea services to transit via third ports, mainly Hong Kong.
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