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Old January 15th, 2008, 05:29 AM   #241
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Chinese mainland, Taiwan to offer 94 chartered flights in Chinese New Year

BEIJING, Jan. 15 (Xinhua) -- The Chinese mainland and Taiwan will arrange 94 cross-Straits charter flights during the upcoming Spring Festival, China's General Administration of Civil Aviation (CAAC) said in a circular released on its website here on Monday.

The flights will operate from Feb. 2 to Feb. 6 and from Feb. 11 to Feb. 15, the circular said. It was earlier reported 93 flights would be arranged.

The first non-stop chartered flight across the Taiwan Straits was launched during the Chinese Lunar New Year in 2005. The following year, 72 round-trip flights were arranged during the holiday.

This year's Spring Festival, the first day of the first month of the Chinese lunar calendar, falls on Feb. 7. It is the most important festive occasion for Chinese to enjoy family reunions.

Like previous years, 12 airline companies, six from each side, will offer flights during the period. The airports involved include Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou, Xiamen, Taipei and Kaohsiung, according to the CAAC.
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Old February 6th, 2008, 09:46 AM   #242
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TAIWAN'S AIRLINES SEEK EXPANSION OF CROSS-STRAIT CHARTER SERVICES

TAIPEI, Feb 6 Asia Pulse - Representatives of Taiwan's airlines industry proposed Tuesday that the government further expand cross-Taiwan Strait charter services, which they said have already proven successful in previous limited runs with passenger load factors of up to 80 percent.

The representatives suggested that the frequency of cross-strait passenger and cargo charters and the destinations they serve be expanded to serve more customers.

The Ministry of Transportation and Communications (MOTC) officials responded to the proposal by noting that any plan to augment service would need to be arranged through negotiations with Chinese authorities.

The ministry said it would work out the technical details involved if the Cabinet arrives at a policy to expand the services.

Cross-strait passenger charter flights were first launched in 2003 to transport China-based Taiwanese businesspeople and their families home for the Chinese New Year holiday and back to China after that.

The services were expanded in 2006 to cover the Mid Autumn Festival and further in 2007 to cover two more holidays, the Tomb Sweeping Festival and the Dragon Boat Festival.

Expanding the number of non-stop flights between Taiwan and China has been a major point of emphasis of the local business community.

Local airlines, facing declining passenger numbers at home with the advent of the high-speed railway, are looking for new lucrative routes, while businesspeople would like to avoid the extra time and expense of traveling to China on business through a third point, usually Hong Kong or Macau.

There have been no regularly scheduled non-stop flights between Taiwan and China in nearly 60 years.

According to MOTC figures, a total of 192 flights carried 37,445 passengers during the 2007 Chinese New Year period from Feb. 5 to March 5, with a passenger load factor of 81.06 percent.

For the Tomb Sweeping Festival period that ran from March 29 to April 12, there were a total of 42 flights with a total of 7,000 passengers, with the passenger load factor reaching 75 percent.

For the Dragon Boat Festival period that ran from June 15 to June 22, a total of 42 flights carried 6,500 passengers, with a load factor of 74 percent.

The Mid Autumn Festival charter period, from Sept. 21 to Sept. 30, saw a total of 48 flights carry 8,500 passengers, with a passenger load factor of 78 percent.

In terms of cross-strait cargo charters, Taiwan's China Airlines operated a total of five flights last year on Dec. 12, Dec. 18, Dec. 24, Dec. 27 and Dec. 29.

As for emergency charter services, Taiwan's TransAsia Airways and China's Deer Jet provided 20 flights and four flights, respectively, to deliver Taiwanese patients from China back to Taiwan for medical treatment.
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Old February 14th, 2008, 12:25 PM   #243
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Direct flights not expected to diminish city's appeal
14 February 2008
South China Morning Post

Hong Kong will remain an important gateway to the mainland for Taiwanese, even after direct flights across the strait begin, Taiwan's representative in Hong Kong predicts.

Jeff Yang Jia-jiunn said the city's convenient location and transport links would continue to attract Taiwanese tourists to stay for a few days en route to the mainland.

"Hong Kong is a very good gateway to observe mainland China," the Chung Hwa Travel Service managing director said, also citing the city's appeal as a tourist spot.

The "three direct links" - transport, trade and mail - are a major issue in the island's presidential election campaign, but Mr Yang said he was not confident they could be achieved within the term of the next Taiwanese government.

Both candidates in next month's presidential election - Ma Ying-jeou of the Kuomintang and Frank Hsieh Chang-ting of the ruling Democratic Progressive Party - have pledged to push for implementation of the three links, with Mr Hsieh setting various conditions. Flights across the strait are now required to stop at a third place, usually Hong Kong or Macau.

Mr Yang said that when the links were established, there would be some effect on travellers' plans to stop in Hong Kong. But Hong Kong was making preparations, he said, citing the proposed rail link between Hong Kong and Shenzhen airports.

"Even when there are direct flights, there will not be routes to and from all cities on the two sides. For example, travellers to Guangdong, Guangxi and other places in southern China may still stop over in Hong Kong."

In 2006, 31.1 per cent of the 2.18 million Taiwanese visitors to Hong Kong stayed in the city overnight, compared with 29.1 per cent in 2005, according to Hong Kong Tourism Board statistics.

Mr Yang also said he believed the imminent Taiwan presidential polls would not change Taiwan's policies towards Hong Kong.
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Old March 2nd, 2008, 05:12 AM   #244
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Taiwan's Ma promises new air links to rival China
29 February 2008

TAIPEI, Taiwan (AP) - Taiwan presidential front-runner Ma Ying-jeou said Friday the island will initiate commercial flights to China if he is elected, raising prospects for increased trade and travel between the longtime rivals.

The remarks to businesspeople came in the run-up to the March 22 presidential vote, in which Ma is heavily favored to defeat Frank Hsieh of the ruling Democratic Progressive Party.

Ma is the candidate of Taiwan's once-dominant Nationalists, who favor expanded business links with the mainland.

Ma spokesman Luo Chih-chiang said Ma told a meeting of businesspeople that if he is elected he will begin weekend charter flights to China before July, daily charters by the end of 2008 and commercial flights by June 2009.

Luo did not give any indication of whether China would approve the proposed arrangement, though Beijing generally favors expanded links with Taiwan, as long as they do not confer the island with the trappings of sovereignty.

The two sides split amid civil war in 1949, and China continues to insist that Taiwan is part of its territory.

While Taiwan and China have strong commercial relations -- annual trade now exceeds $100 billion -- Ma has long maintained that Taiwan's economic development is being retarded by the lack of commercial flights to the mainland.

Unless they use infrequent holiday charters, cross-Strait travelers now have to change planes at a third point -- usually Hong Kong.

Hsieh has said he favors increased charters to China, though he has not come out in support of commercial flights.
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Old March 4th, 2008, 05:32 AM   #245
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Direct cross-strait flights could help Taiwan airlines: businessmen

BEIJING, March 3 (Xinhua) -- Some members of Taiwan's aviation industry have called for starting regular charter flights or even opening normal service across the Taiwan Strait, steps that they say would help local airlines deal with competition from domestic express trains and higher fuel costs.

Tony Fan, chairman of the Taipei Airlines Association and president of Taiwan's TransAsia Airways, said that direct flights would benefit carriers, and all policies that helped promote direct flights would be welcomed by the industry.

Since Taiwan's express railway network began operation in January 2007, local airlines have seen passenger traffic slump. In the first 10 months of last year, the airlines saw a 25.3 percent decline in passengers.

Taiwan's Far East Airways has experienced a series of financial crises. The company also said that it hoped direct flights would help reduce risks for investors and encourage the main stakeholder to salvage the company.

Analysts believe that some local airlines could go bankrupt within a year unless there is increased service across the strait.
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Old March 12th, 2008, 07:11 AM   #246
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Airlines to increase flights during elections
10 March 2008
Taipei Times

Several Taiwanese and foreign airlines will increase their flights between Taiwan and Hong Kong ahead of the March 22 presidential election to help carry China-based Taiwanese home to vote in the election, industry sources said.

Taipei-headquartered China Airlines said it has added 10 additional flights between Taiwan and Hong Kong from March 19 to March 21. The additional flights are already almost fully booked, the company said.

According to Hong Kong-based Cathay Pacific Airways, seats on its regular and five added flights between March 19 and March 21 between Taiwan and Hong Kong have all been reserved.

Hong Kong Dragon Airlines, meanwhile, said its Taiwan-Hong Kong flights between March 19 and March 21 will all be full.

EVA Airways Corp will increase its flights on the Taiwan-Hong Kong route during the same period, the company said in a statement issued on Friday.

EVA Air said that the measure is aimed at enabling China-based Taiwanese businesspeople to easily return home ahead of the presidential election, and predicted that the remaining seats on board all its Taiwan-Hong Kong flights will be fully booked next week.

Meanwhile, EVA Air said that it would raise its fares between 10 percent to 15 percent on all its routes by the end of this month to reflect its rising fuel costs as crude oil prices continue to surge in the world market.

The company said that its oil cost had risen from US$84 per barrel on average for the whole of last year to an average US$117 per barrel since the beginning of this year.

An affiliate of shipping conglomerate Evergreen Group, EVA is the largest privately owned Taiwanese airline.
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Old March 12th, 2008, 07:45 AM   #247
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I'm really sad to see the Taiwan's High Speed Rail has drastically cut into domestic flights from TransAsia Airways, Mandarin Airlines, Eva Air, Uni Air, Far Eastern Air Transport and China Airlines.
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Old March 15th, 2008, 08:46 AM   #248
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FEATURE-For Taiwan's presidential rivals, it's China, stupid

TAIPEI, March 13 (Reuters) - Taiwan business people will have a chance this year to do something they have never done before -- fly direct to China in just under an hour.

It doesn't sound like much, but it will be a gift for the roughly 750,000 people with factories and other investments in booming China who now have to transit through Hong Kong or Macau, adding up to half a day onto their travel time.

Regular weekend charter flights as early as July, daily charters by late 2008 and, eventually, daily scheduled flights anchor the platform of Ma Yingjeou, the China-friendly Nationalist Party's (KMT) candidate and frontrunner in the run-up to the island's March 22 presidential election.

Holiday-season charters began in January 2005, ending a ban that Taiwan had in place since the end of the Chinese civil war in 1949. But even those one-off flights must go through Hong Kong airspace, meaning many are roundabout and almost as time-consuming as making a transit stop.

China, which considers self-ruled Taiwan its own, would welcome direct links with open arms.

Ma's rival is Frank Hsieh of the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), which has held the presidency for the past eight years, nettling China with its tilt towards independence.

But even Hsieh, under pressure to satisfy investors looking for a stronger foothold in China's booming economy, is following -- albeit more cautiously -- in Ma's footsteps, pledging a gradual increase in direct flights to China.

"The general direction of both candidates is the same, with the difference being matters of pace and degree," said Lin Chong-Pin, president of the Taipei-based Foundation on International and Cross-strait Studies.

NOT JUST FLIGHTS

Direct flights is just one of several plans that the rival parties have come up with for closer ties to an economy averaging annual growth of close to 10 percent. That such proposals should come from the DPP, better known for foot-dragging on China, is remarkable.

The latest came on Wednesday when the government -- in a move analysts saw as a DPP gambit for votes more than a money-spinner for Taiwan's economy -- said it would allow the island's banks to invest in lenders in China.

Taiwan investors have poured more than $100 billion into China, where they are lured by a common language, lower labour costs and a potentially huge consumer market.

"For so long, people have complained about jobs going to China, so they hope for more opportunities," said Emily Chen, 40, a Taipei swing voter who works in an executive search firm.

President Chen Shui-bian, who steps down in May due to term limits, has made little headway on economic ties since he took office in 2000 because of his stormy relations with China.

"Chen's departure ... will give China an opportunity to adjust its Taiwan policy to approach Taiwan as a whole, the entire political spectrum," said Joseph Cheng, a political science professor at City University of Hong Kong.

Both presidential candidates have proposed raising the limit, now at 40 percent of net assets, on how much listed Taiwan firms can invest in China.

Ma has also suggested that up to 3,000 Chinese travellers could visit Taiwan per day on direct flights. Analysts say such a boost in tourism could add 0.2 percentage point to Taiwan's gross domestic product growth (GDP), which was 5.7 percent in 2007.

ECONOMIC WARMTH, POLITICAL CHILL

Still, Ma and Hsieh have both said they would resist China politically despite warming on the economic front.

Hsieh talks up Taiwan's sovereignty as often as he mentions trade ties, and Ma says he would not discuss unification with Chinese leaders while in office even though it is an eventual goal of his party.

Beijing would rather work with Ma, political analysts say.

"I think Beijing is aware that Frank Hsieh is different from Chen Shui-bian. Hsieh has said he wants to lift the ban on cross-Strait trade and he wants to have direct links," said Chen Mu-min, professor at National Chung Hsing University in Taiwan.

"But Beijing still doesn't know whether Hsieh really wants to do that or if he is just paying lip service."
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Old April 6th, 2008, 06:36 PM   #249
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Taiwan Eyes China Weekend Charter Flights From July 4 -Report
5 April 2008

TAIPEI (Dow Jones)--Taiwan's new government plans that weekend charter flights to China won't have to fly over Hong Kong's air space starting July 4, the Economic Daily News reported Friday, citing a Kuomintang think tank official, George Chen.

The opposition Kuomintang party candidate Ma Ying-jeou, who won the presidential elections March 22, promised to implement weekend charter flights by July. He assumes office May 20.

Taiwan plans to add Taichung, in central Taiwan, to Taipei and Kaohsiung for the flights running from Friday to Monday and connecting to Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou and Xiamen, the paper cited Chen as saying.
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Old April 6th, 2008, 06:40 PM   #250
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HK carriers brace for direct links
City's role in Taiwan-mainland trade and travel may be in the balance

5 April 2008
South China Morning Post

Planned direct links between Taiwan and the mainland following the election of the Beijing-friendly Kuomintang appears at first glance to be a big blow to Hong Kong's transportation and logistics industries.

For years, the ban on direct cross-strait links has meant rich pickings for Hong Kong, which has acted as a third-party stopover point for cargo ships and passenger aircraft.

Hopes for a swift implementation of direct links were raised following Ma Ying-jeou's victory in Taiwan's presidential elections late last month. Mr Ma pledged to create a "common market" between the mainland and Taiwan by easing restrictions on cross-strait investments and travel.

Mr Ma has promised to allow regular weekend charter flights from July 1 with scheduled direct flights to be established next year. The flowering of direct trade between the mainland and Taiwan, considered by Beijing as a renegade province, could mean the eventual end of Hong Kong as a stopover for trade and people.

But with direct links on the agenda for at least 10 years, Hong Kong-based shipping lines and airlines have had plenty of time to prepare themselves for the expected loss of revenue.

In the end it may not be as bad as first expected. Hong Kong still has cost benefits which mean some Taiwan-based business would remain.

The idea of direct links was first mooted in 1992 but talks were halted in 1995 when then Taiwanese president Lee Teng-hui declared the island an independent country.

Not until 2005 were hopes of direct links reignited when former KMT chairman Lien Chan visited the mainland.

Since then many shipping lines have got around the trade restrictions by sailing their vessels to a Japanese customs-controlled island near Okinawa before arriving at their destinations on either side of the Taiwan Strait.

"We have practised 'direct links' more than 10 years ago," said Stanley Shen, a spokesman at Orient Overseas Containers Line. Ships can sail "directly" across the strait by passing near the island and not necessarily even stopping over. Many other shipping lines have followed suit.

Yet, some seaborne shipments still go via Hong Kong through midstream operations because of cost-effectiveness. In this process, the cargo is dispatched from ocean vessels and transferred to barges in Hong Kong to continue the journey to their destinations upstream in the Pearl River Delta.

"About one million 20-foot equivalent units (teu) go via Hong Kong into the PRD from Taiwan each year," said Sunny Ho, an executive director of the Hong Kong Shippers' Council. "The implementation of direct links may not be such a big blow to midstream operators since their service is cost- and time-competitive."

Midstream and river trade terminal throughput in Hong Kong reached 6.7 million teu last year, with Taiwan cargo accounting for about one-third of that. Since the Hong Kong government double-counts transshipment cargo, the throughput volume of Taiwan cargo needs to be multiplied by two. For Hong Kong port as a whole, Taiwan accounts for 8.3 per cent of the cargo.

Hong Kong-based airlines such as Cathay Pacific Airways and Dragonair are expected to feel the impact of direct links more than shippers.

Some 60 per cent of Taiwan passengers, totalling 700,000 million trips, would skip Hong Kong to go directly to the mainland under the proposed opening up, said Susie Chiang Su-hui, chairman of the Taiwan Business Association (HK).

"Taiwan business people can just take an hour's flight to the mainland, saving up to a day transiting through Hong Kong," Ms Chiang said.

Worse still, most air freight will bypass Hong Kong and go directly to the mainland once direct links are established, resulting in US$20 billion worth of revenue being taken away from Hong Kong, according to Ms Chiang.

Cathay and Dragonair say they cannot produce figures on how many passengers and how much cargo originated in Taiwan. China Airlines, the Taiwan-based carrier and the third-largest air cargo carrier in Hong Kong, declined to comment.

Because Cathay has expanded its international network over the past decade, its net profit would decline 10 per cent after direct links were introduced, said Jim Wong, a transport analyst for Nomura Securities. Hong Kong International Airport would lose around 3 per cent of its total passenger numbers.

Air Macau and Macau International Airport would be the big losers as 80 per cent of its Taiwan transit passengers would travel directly to the mainland, translating into a 60 per cent drop in passenger numbers, said Mr Wong.

As 60 per cent of air cargo to and from Hong Kong is carried in the belly of passenger flights, Hong Kong-Taiwan air freight capacity would drop 36 per cent, assuming 60 per cent of passenger flights would be cut between the two cities due to declining passengers.

But one freight forwarder said that air cargo destined for the Pearl River Delta would continue to use Hong Kong as a transit point instead of going straight to airports in Guangzhou or Shenzhen.

"The reliability and efficiency in Hong Kong are unmatched," the executive said.

Even if all of the re-exported cargo from Taiwan bypassed Hong Kong, the impact on the city's economy would be minimal. The percentage of re-exports from Taiwan to the total re-export trade in Hong Kong has been around 7 per cent in the past three years. And it amounted to just 3.3 to 3.4 per cent of total trade.

The real winners would be Taiwanese carriers such as Eva Airlines and China Airlines.

Mr Wong predicts passenger volumes will increase by 17 per cent for China Airlines and 14 per cent for Eva.
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Old April 23rd, 2008, 02:37 PM   #251
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INTERVIEW-EVA Air says no threat to HK's hub status from Taiwan-China links
22 April 2008

TAIPEI (XFN-ASIA) - The status of Hong Kong as a regional air traffic hub will not be diminished by an expected increase in direct air links between Taiwan and China, according to EVA Airways Corp (2618.TW), Taiwan's second-biggest airline.

Hong Kong's convenient connections to southern China and Europe for both passengers and cargo make it indispensable, said Nieh Kuo-wei, the Evergreen group's executive public relations officer.

'Charter flights between Taiwan and China, at least in the initial stages, cannot expect to match the high frequency Hong Kong has to offer,' he said.

Each year, an estimated 4 mln people travel from Taiwan to China, either for business or pleasure. Most must get there via Hong Kong, Macau or South Korea's Cheju due to the absence of direct flights.

There are charter flights across the Taiwan Strait, but only around major annual holidays. Taiwan companies can arrange special cargo flights to ship equipment and components to their plants on the mainland.

Now Taiwan's new president, Ma Ying-jeou, who will be sworn in on May 20, wants to see regular weekend passenger charters starting in July, followed by weekday charters by the end of this year, and regularly scheduled flights from July 2009.

Such plans require China's agreement, of course, but relations between the island and the mainland have warmed since the election of Ma, who campaigned on a promise of closer economic ties between the two rivals, which have been politically estranged since the Communist victory in the Chinese civil war in 1949.

Earlier this month Chinese President Hu Jintao met with Hu's vice presidential running mate Vincent Siew. Though the meeting was unofficial, it was the highest level encounter between officials of the two governments in six decades.

Nieh said no one knows yet what increased air links will mean -- how many flights, airlines and airports will be involved.

At least 12 daily 250-passenger flights would be needed to accommodate the 3,000 mainland tourists Ma's incoming government says it would be ready to welcome each day, said Nieh.

On top of that there is bound to be a surge in the number of Taiwan businesspeople and sightseers wanting to take advantage of direct routes to the mainland.

'One thing is for sure,' Nieh said. 'We are not planning to expand our fleet because of a greater frequency of cross-strait flights -- not now.

'Instead, we will review our current services on other routes, particularly those to Hong Kong and Macau, to determine if adjustment is warranted.

'There will certainly be an impact on Hong Kong, but it is too early to say how big.'

About 10 pct of EVA Air's parent sales -- which totaled 93.10 bln twd in 2007 -- come from passenger and cargo services to Hong Kong and neighboring Macau.

Every week the airline runs 50 passenger flights to both cities and 12 to 14 all-cargo flights.

Its passsenger load factors last year were 80 pct for Hong Kong and 75 pct for Macau, compared with 81 pct for all destinations.

Nieh said Hong Kong provides convenient transfers to Dongguan and Shenzhen in Guangdong province, where there are many Taiwanese business interests. The high frequency of flights between Taiwan and Hong Kong would remain a big attraction for passengers even if weekend charter flights were permitted between Taiwan and Guangzhou, the capital of Guangdong.

More importantly, Hong Kong is an important transit point for Taiwan passengers catching flights to Europe.

Taiwan companies with production sites in southern China also look to Hong Kong to ship air cargo all around the world.

Macau, in turn, is close to the southern industrial cities of Zhongshan and Zhuhai and its casinos now attract visitors by the millions from all over Asia.

Nieh said EVA Air is not worried about a possible price war on routes between Taiwan and China.

'Hefty fuel costs make it quite unlikely that any carrier can afford to engage in cut-throat competition,' Nieh said. 'The recent string of failures of discount airlines must be a lesson.'
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Old April 30th, 2008, 07:07 AM   #252
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Taiwan's Ma committed to July target for weekend China flights - report
29 April 2008

TAIPEI (XFN-ASIA) - Ma Ying-jeou, who takes office as president on May 20, said he remains committed to pushing for expanding charter flights across the Taiwan Strait to weekend services in July.

He was quoted by the Commercial Times as saying that he hopes to bring in the first direct arrivals of Chinese tourists on those July flights.

The ultimate goal is to introduce regular scheduled flights after charter flights are made a daily service by the end of the year, he added.

Ma was asked to comment on his appointment of a pro-independence politician as head of the island's top China policy body, which has been taken as a signal that he may be modifying his campaign pledge to pursue rapprochement with the mainland.

Earlier this week, premier-designate Liu Chao-shiuan announced that Lai Shin-yuan of the Taiwan Solidarity Union will serve as chairwoman of the Mainland Affairs Council in his incoming cabinet.
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Old May 12th, 2008, 09:44 AM   #253
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China's Xiamen International Airport eyes tie-up with Taiwan airlines

BEIJING, May 9, 2008 (AFP) - China's Xiamen International Airport Group Co. Ltd. said Friday it was eyeing partnerships with Taiwan carriers amid hopes the two sides would soon establish regular weekly flights.

The airport, located in southeast China's Fujian province just across from Taiwan, is looking at various options, including transforming itself into an air cargo hub for flights to Taiwan, an executive told AFP.

It has not yet entered into concrete negotiations with air companies from Taiwan, said the executive, who declined to be named.

He said the state-owned airport group was well positioned for closer cooperation with Taiwanese carriers as it had been taking chartered flights between Taiwan and the mainland for years.

The incoming government of Taiwan president-elect Ma Ying-jeou is eyeing July 4 for the start of the first regular direct charter flights between China and Taiwan since they split.

Currently, only holiday services are allowed on passenger charter flights, and cargo flights are conducted on a case-by-case basis.

Ma won March presidential elections in Taiwan partly on a promise to improve ties with China.

The two sides have been governed separately since the end of a civil war in 1949, but Beijing has never given up on reunification, saying it remains an objective, even if it means war.
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Old June 12th, 2008, 04:22 AM   #254
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Taiwan Negotiator Hopes Talks To Boost China Ties
10 June 2008

TAIPEI (Dow Jones)--Taiwan's top negotiator with China, P.K. Chiang, said Tuesday talks with Beijing on weekend charter flights and visits to the island by Chinese tourists will be the basis for better Taiwan-China ties in the future.

"This is the best time to improve Taiwan and China ties," said Chiang, who is chairman of the semiofficial Taipei-based Straits Exchange Foundation, as the two sides resume official dialogue after a gap of nearly a decade.

The official is leading a 19-member delegation to Beijing in the talks with the foundation's Chinese counterpart, the Association for Relations Across the Taiwan Straits. The talks will begin Wednesday and end Friday. The delegation returns to Taipei on Saturday.

Chiang, 75 years old, said Taiwan aims to sign an agreement allowing it to operate 18 round-trip passenger chartered flights each weekend. The agreement will likely be signed Friday, said Kao Koong-lian, vice chairman of the Straits Exchange Foundation, or SEF.

China would also be able to operate 18 round-trip weekend chartered flights, and the flights will start in July if talks go smoothly, said Leo Tseng, director of the Department of Planning and Information Service at the SEF.

Taiwan and China split in a civil war in 1949, but China continues to claim the self-ruled island as part of its territory. Direct transport links have been limited to passenger charter flights during four major holidays each year, and mainland Chinese aren't allowed to take the flights.

Talks between the two bodies were halted in 1999, when former Taiwan President Lee Teng-hui defined cross-Strait ties as "a special state-to-state relationship," a remark seen by Beijing as a move to promote Taiwanese independence.

Taiwan President Ma Ying-jeou was elected March 22 on a promise to improve ties with China. He pledged to allow weekend passenger and cargo chartered flights between the two sides in July, raise the daily quota of Chinese tourists visiting the island to 3,000, and eventually allow scheduled direct flights.

Chiang said this week's talks will also be the basis for future negotiations on other issues such as cargo charter flights, direct shipping links, investment by Taiwanese financial companies in China, and allowing Taiwan to have a more active role in the international community.

Only 23 nations formally recognize self-ruled Taiwan, which lost its U.N. seat to Beijing in 1971, and both sides have often used generous financial packages to influence governments to ensure loyalty or persuade them to switch recognition.

China has also prevented Taiwan from joining international bodies such as the World Health Organization.

"We'll talk about the priorities for future negotiations," said Chiang, referring to talks between him and his Chinese counterpart Chen Yunlin, scheduled for Thursday. But he added negotiations on subjects other than passenger charter flights and Chinese tourists won't begin until the Taiwan government has authorized the SEF.

Chiang said cargo charter flights are "on top of the priority list," but an agreement on those flights likely won't be signed this time because "both sides need more time." He didn't elaborate.

Kao said Taiwan will eventually allow Chinese airlines to open branch offices in Taiwan, but didn't elaborate on the time frame.

Chiang declined to comment when asked by a reporter whether he will meet Chinese President Hu Jintao during his visit to Bejing.
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Old June 12th, 2008, 04:23 AM   #255
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Taiwan: Aiming For 18 Round-Trip Weekend Flights To China
10 June 2008

TAIPEI (Dow Jones)--Taiwan is aiming for 18 round-trip weekend passenger chartered flights to China, P.K. Chiang, chairman of the Straits Exchange Foundation, said Tuesday.

The aim is for mainland China also to have 18 weekend chartered flights for Chinese to travel to Taiwan, said Leo Tseng, director of the Department of Planning and Information Service at the Straits Exchange Foundation.

Tseng said he hopes the chartered flights can start from July.
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Old June 14th, 2008, 05:41 AM   #256
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Landmark Cross-Straits Deals Signed
By Wu Jiao
14 June 2008
China Daily

Chinese mainland tourists will be able to visit Taiwan via chartered flights on weekends from next month, according to two landmark agreements signed on Friday.

The deals were signed by the mainland's Association for Relations Across the Taiwan Straits (ARATS) chairman Chen Yunlin and Taiwan-based Straits Exchange Foundation (SEF) chairman Chiang Pin-kun after the semi-official bodies completed their first talks in nearly a decade.

The two sides agreed to start the chartered flights from July 4.

To date, the service has been available only during major Chinese festivals.

Previous media reports suggested the flights would be restricted to mainland and Taiwan travelers. But anyone with valid travel documents will be able to take them, according to the agreement.

Although the 36 flights each weekend - from Friday to Monday - will, for the time being, still be required to fly through Hong Kong airspace, the two sides agreed to start discussing a "direct flight route as soon as possible".

They also agreed to discuss chartered cargo flights and air traffic control coordination.

"Now it is a beginning and the next step will follow," Michael Lo, former chairman of the Taipei Airlines Association, was quoted by Beijing News on Friday.

"We can't expect to reach the final target in one step.

"A good beginning is half the job done."

The other agreement is on mainland tourists' travel arrangements in Taiwan.

In the first batch, 13 mainland provinces and municipalities are included.

"A maximum of 3,000 mainland tourists can travel to Taiwan every day," the agreement states.

The first group of mainland tourists will arrive in Taiwan on July 4.

The two sides also agreed to set up representative offices to handle tourism issues, and pledged to simplify entry and exit procedures and protect mainland tourists' legal rights and safety.

Hu meets Chiang

In his meeting with Taiwan's chief negotiator Chiang Pin-kun on Friday afternoon, Hu Jintao, general secretary of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee, said the resumption of talks between the ARATS and the SEF showed that the two sides had the wisdom and capacity to overcome existing problems through dialogue.

"As long as the both sides can build mutual trust, shelve differences, seek common ground and create a win-win situation, we will be able to continuously advance our negotiations and score more positive progress," Hu said.

He said the two agreements would contribute to the realization of direct links for mail, trade and transport services across the Straits.

The ARATS and the SEF are authorized semi-official organizations engaged in talks on issues related to cross-Straits exchanges in absence of official links.

Talks were suspended in 1999 after then-Taiwan leader Lee Teng-hui defined cross-Straits ties as a "special state-to-state relationship".

Chiang said he had talked with his mainland counterpart about more topics that might be on the future agenda, including direct shipping and oil and gas exploration in the Taiwan Straits.
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Old June 14th, 2008, 05:42 AM   #257
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Direct cross-strait flights no threat to HK carriers
14 June 2008
South China Morning Post

In the short term, Hong Kong carriers will not feel much impact from the added competition of 18 new chartered flights between the mainland and Taiwan, scheduled to begin next month.

Analysts say Hong Kong airlines could suffer in the future if Taiwan ever replaces the city as the gateway to the mainland, but that would require major policy shifts in Beijing and Taipei.

One crucial factor that constrains Taiwan as a transit hub for mainlanders is that the new flights are technically charters. Though they will be regularly scheduled, Beijing requires mainlanders to enter and leave Taiwan together as a group. Individuals cannot leave the group and travel beyond Taiwan. That means Taiwan cannot serve as a transit hub unless this restriction is lifted.

Another limiting factor is that travellers from the west are unlikely to pass through Taipei to the mainland because flights between Taipei and the west are dominated by Taiwanese carriers. These were not as popular with non-Taiwanese passengers due to concern about the carriers' safety records, a transport analyst said.

At present, there are 19 destinations in Europe and the United States connected to Taipei by Taiwan's China Airlines and Eva Air, including New York, Chicago, Atlanta, Rome and London.

If international carriers could get permission to fly into the mainland via Taiwan then its chances of becoming a gateway would improve, the analyst said.

As for international connections, Taipei has only one-third as many as Hong Kong and with a much less frequency. Taoyuan International Airport connects with about 50 destinations internationally compared with Hong Kong's 150.

The Taiwan routes were among the most profitable for Cathay Pacific and Dragonair, but the impact of a direct link would be minimal because of its restrictions, said Jim Wong, a transport analyst for Nomura Securities. Revenue per passenger per kilometre would drop less than 5 per cent for Cathay, including Dragonair, once the direct link is in place. Meanwhile, the impact on its cargo business would be slightly lower than that in the passenger sector.

Cathay Pacific said the impact remained to be assessed pending further details of the 18 weekend charter flights and the pace of further direct flights in the future. Cathay Pacific and Dragonair operate 141 flights per week to Taipei and Kaohsiung.

A direct link between Taiwan and the mainland creates the potential for European and American carriers to expand their limited foothold in Taiwan. But the airlines do not seem to be jumping at the opportunity yet.

"In the long run it will be possible for international passengers to travel via Taiwan to the mainland," said Gilbert Chow, Hong Kong general manager for Northwest Airlines.

Northwest is one of two American airlines operating in Taipei. It connects passengers from Taipei to Osaka.
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Old June 18th, 2008, 04:14 AM   #258
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Thousands compete for seats on first passenger flights to Taiwan
16 June 2008
South China Morning Post

Thousands of hopeful travellers from the mainland are competing for the first 600 seats on passenger flights to Taiwan on July 4.

The tourists are from three provinces - Guangdong, Fujian and Jiangsu - and Beijing and Shanghai.

In affluent Guangdong province, five travel agencies - two in Guangzhou, and the others in Shenzhen, Zhuhai and Zhongshan - will share 100 seats.

One of the nominated agencies in Guangzhou, GZL International Travel Service, which has 20 seats, has been swamped by more than 8,000 people wanting tickets, according to Helen Liang, a company executive.

In a bid to allocate the limited seats fairly, the agency announced that those with relatives on the island would get priority.

But the Taipei-based China Times newspaper reported that Shanghai authorities had set other criteria to exclude those travellers considered "unsuitable".

They rejected all applications from three categories of people: non-Shanghai residents, government officials and those with "problematic" political backgrounds.

Recipients of the 100 tickets shared by two travel agencies in Shanghai have already been selected from hundreds that applied, while more than 1,000 people are competing for 200 seats earmarked for Beijing.

The agreement to open the island to mainland tourists was signed on Friday.

The breakthrough came after a summit between the chairman of the Association for Relations Across the Taiwan Strait, Chen Yun-lin , and his visiting Taiwanese counterpart Chiang Pin-kung, the head of the Straits Exchange Foundation.

"The response is so hot and many residents are very eager to have a look at Taiwan," Ms Liang said.

"Most of the hundreds of people who came in person to apply so far have been elderly.

"Most of them just want to go sightseeing."

According to preliminary planning, the 10-day trip for the first group of tourists will cover major cities and scenic sites such as Taipei, Hualien and Sun Moon Lake.

The tours will give travellers sufficient time to experience local customs and scenery.

"The price for the trip is still not yet fixed," Ms Liang said.

"But as far as I know, it should be more than 1,000 yuan (HK$1,133) per day."

Some mainlanders said the estimated full price of the tour was too high, at 14,000 yuan, making it hard for ordinary people to afford.

"For only 10,000 yuan you could have a holiday in Europe," said one Beijing resident.
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Old June 19th, 2008, 05:10 AM   #259
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China Eastern, SH Air to fly to Taiwan from July 4

SHANGHAI, June 19 (Reuters) - China Eastern Airlines and Shanghai Airlines will kick off regular direct flights to Taiwan on July 4, the carriers said in separate statements late Wednesday.

China Eastern will operate 3 flights from Shanghai and 1 flight from Nanjing to Taipei per week, while Shanghai Airlines will fly twice per week from Shanghai to Taipei.

Pricing for the routes has yet to be announced.

Other mainland airlines assigned by regulators to launch direct flights to Taiwan include China Southern Airlines , Air China , Hainan Airlines and Xiamen Airlines.

China and Taiwan signed a landmark deal last Friday to launch regular flights between the long-time rivals. Apart from special holidays, there have been no regular direct flights since 1949.

China has claimed sovereignty over self-ruled and democratic Taiwan ever since and has pledged to bring the island under its control, by force if necessary.

But the election of Taiwan President Ma Ying-jeou, who won by a landslide in March on pledges to boost the local economy by improving trade with China, has suddenly warmed relations.
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Old June 23rd, 2008, 11:55 AM   #260
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Taiwan Eva Air eyes cooperation with China peers

TAIPEI, June 20 (Reuters) - Eva Airways , Taiwan's second-largest carrier, plans to increase direct flights to China and seek to work with Chinese airlines as cross-Straits business ties improve.

Taiwan and China plan to launch regular flights between the long-time rivals for the first time since 1949. Direct weekend flights will start on July 4.

"We will definitely want to partner other airlines, and everyone agrees there are not enough direct flights to China," said Eva spokesman Nieh Kuo-wei.

Eva said it will initially have 7 direct flights to China each week, from both Taoyuan International Airport and Taipei's Songshan domestic airport, but will not trim the number of flights to Hong Kong.

For decades, flights between Taiwan and China had to make lengthy stop-overs in Hong Kong.

On Friday, Eva signed an agreement with China Eastern Airlines to collaborate on ticket issues and luggage handling. China Eastern also wants to fly direct to Taiwan.

"We may lose money in the beginning for some direct flights, but we're not looking at this development just from a business standpoint," said Cao Jianxiong, China Eastern's general manager. "We hope it will boost Taiwan and China relations and improve economic ties."

Other mainland airlines assigned by regulators to fly direct to Taiwan include China Southern Airlines , Air China , Hainan Airlines and Xiamen Airlines.

China has claimed sovereignty over self-ruled and democratic Taiwan since the Chinese civil war and has pledged to bring the island under its control, by force if necessary.

But new Taiwan President Ma Ying-jeou has pledged to boost the economy by improving trade with China.
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