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Old February 27th, 2009, 02:49 AM   #321
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CAA to change Songshan status
Since the advent of cross-strait flights, Songshan airport has seen an upsurge in international flights, as the number of domestic flights has dwindled
18 February 2009
Taipei Times

The Civil Aeronautics Administration (CAA) said yesterday that it was planning to switch the functions of the first and second terminals of Taipei's Songshan Airport as it had become more than just a domestic airport.

The airport has seen a decline in the number of of domestic flight passengers since the high-speed rail became operational two years ago, but at the same time it has started to see an increase in international passengers from China because of the start of cross-strait charter flights.

Passengers from China now have to disembark at the first terminal and cross a hallway to the second terminal where they then pass through customs and inspection.

CAA Director-General Lee Lung-wen said that Songshan was now positioned as an airport serving mainly passengers arriving for business.

Those coming for tourism mostly land at Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport, he said.

Lee said that the international arrivals hall would be relocated from the second terminal to the west side of the first terminal by the end of the year.

The inspection, customs and quarantine (ICQ) area in the second terminal would be torn down and remodeled to become the domestic flight terminal, he said.

Lee added that the construction was scheduled to be completed in either August or September next year.

The CAA, on the other hand, is planning to start remodeling the first terminal in October next year, work that is scheduled to be completed by August 2010.

Lee said that the runway at Songshan currently has a capacity to handle 36 departing and arriving flights per hour.

Between 1997 and 1998, the airport handled a total of 500 domestic flights a day.

However, Lee said that it did not mean the airport could take that many international flights a day because the terminals and other infrastructure at the airport remained limited.

The check-in time needed for domestic and international flights was different as well.

International flights use bigger aircraft like the Airbus 330 that can accommodate more than 200 passengers, he said.

Lee said the number of international flights would be capped at between 20 and 30.

All international transit flights would land at Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport, he said.

Lee said the airport would take flights between two cities only, adding that airlines flying to Songshan may be asked to pay higher aircraft departure and landing fees.

Lee said the airport may offer international flights to cities in China and other countries in northeast and southeast Asia, adding that the bureau was working to secure flights to Japan's Haneda International, South Korea's Gimpo and Shanghai's Hongqiao airports.

"All these airports have one thing in common: They are all inner city airports," Lee said.

Meanwhile, as the Taipei MRT's Neihu Line, scheduled for completion in June, will also stop at the airport, the CAA notified the Taipei City Government to take heed of the change in the status of the airport.

In related news, China's Cross-Strait Tourism Exchange Association said on Monday that the number of Chinese travel agencies handling tour groups to Taiwan had increased from 33 to 146. The Chinese government now allows residents of 25 provinces to visit Taiwan.
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Old March 3rd, 2009, 04:17 AM   #322
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Empty seats show glitches in China-Taiwan flights
27 February 2009
China Economic Review

Planes are flying with many empty seats a month after daily direct flights began between Taiwan and the mainland , and travel officials are urging that some of the restrictions in the landmark deal be loosened.

The mainland and Taiwan launched more than 100 direct daily charter flights a week on December 15, a month before the busy Lunar New Year holiday season.

However, flights are filling to only 71% of capacity, while, according to the Taiwan government, Chinese tourism arrivals reached only 10% of projections last month.

Industry analysts sayd a lack of flights to popular Chinese cities, such as Shanghai and Beijing, account for the low number of Taiwanese travelers. They say too many serve secondary cities.
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Old March 6th, 2009, 08:26 PM   #323
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Taiwan to ask China for increased number of chartered flights
5 March 2009
Central News Agency English News

Taipei, March 5 (CNA) Taiwan will negotiate with China for an increased number of direct cross-Taiwan Strait chartered flights to meet passenger demand before regular flights are launched, the head of the Civil Aeronautics Administration (CAA) said Thursday.

CAA Director-General Lee Long-wen said the 108 weekly two-way chartered flights between Taiwan and mainland China that kicked off last Dec. 15 following the signing of an accord between Taiwan and China last November would be inadequate to meet actual demand in days to come as the number of Chinese tourists to Taiwan is growing by leaps and bounds.

More tourists are expected to visit Taiwan in the near future as Beijing has allowed residents from 25 Chinese provinces to take sightseeing tours to Taiwan, up from just a handful previously, and the number of Chinese travel agencies dealing with travel across the strait has meanwhile jumped to 146 so far, Lee said.

"It's imperative that the 108 weekly chartered flights be increased in number before regular cross-strait flights are launched later this year," Lee stressed.

Details, including how many flights to add, flight schedules and when cross-strait negotiations on the issue should start, are being worked out via the Taipei Airlines Association and its Beijing counterpart, Lee noted.

Passenger load factor of Taiwanese carriers has averaged over 70 percent over the past two months since daily direct cross-strait charter flights were launched last Dec. 15. The passenger load factor even exceeded 80 percent in late February around the Chinese New Year holiday, Lee said.

He pointed out that it had been determined in the pact that the two sides signed last November that the number of cross-strait charter flights could be increased contingently if special needs arise.

In terms of special needs, he was referring to the Second World Buddhist Forum that is slated to open in Wuxi in China's Jiangsu province on March 28 and conclude in Taipei on April 1, with over 1,100 religious people from 60 countries and areas around the world participating.
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Old March 14th, 2009, 05:31 PM   #324
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Direct cross-strait charter flights likely to be increased
13 March 2009
The China Post

TAIPEI, Taiwan -- Direct charter flights across the Taiwan Strait is likely to be increased sharply before regular flights are started in July.

íºWe are planning to increase cross-strait flights, because they are carrying near-capacity passengers now,í¿ Civil Aeronautics administration director Lee Lung-wen said yesterday.

He said the plan will be submitted to the Ministry of Transportation and Communications for approval shortly. The Mainland Affairs Council has to approve it, too.

Passengers increased greatly after the Chinese New Year Festival. Chinese New Year's Day fell on Jan. 26 this year. The cross-strait direct charter flights began on July 4 last year.

Altogether 108 charter flights are made a week now. On average, the flights had 83.6 percent of capacity loaded. Domestic carriers had an 88.6 percent load, versus 76 percent of their Chinese counterparts.

íºLooking forward,í¿ Lee said, íºwe should increase the flights before July.í¿

Domestic carriers hope the flights will be doubled to 216 a week. At least there should be a 50 percent increase to 162, they demand.

P.K. Chiang, chairman of the Straits Exchange Foundation, is scheduled to meet his Chinese counterpart Chen Yunlin in June to finalize the opening of regular fights in July.

Chen, chairman of the Association for Relations across the Taiwan Strait, came to Taipei in November last year to sign an agreement on shortening the routes for charter flights.

Negotiations must be made for the increase of flights. Domestic airlines know the Chinese authorities have to take the impact on Hong Kong and Macao carriers into consideration.

íºOf course, we want to double our charter flights,í¿ an airline industry source said. íºBut we will be satisfied if there is at least a 50 percent increase.
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Old March 21st, 2009, 05:26 PM   #325
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NO. OF CROSS-STRAIT FLIGHTS LIKELY TO TRIPLE THIS YEAR: TAIWAN

TAIPEI, March 20 Asia Pulse - The number of two-way cross-Taiwan Strait flights is expected to triple to around 340 per week in the second half of this year, a government official said Thursday.

Oliver F. L. Yu, vice minister of transportation and communications, said Taiwan and China are negotiating to upgrade the current daily charter flight service to regularly scheduled commercial flights, hopefully from July this year.

At that time, the number of weekly cross-straits flights could be increased to 340, more than triple the current number of 108, he estimated. However, the actual number of flights will depend on the outcome of the bilateral talks, he added.

Yu made the remarks while reporting on the prospects of cross-strait and domestic air travel development.

Thanks to the establishment of non-stop cross-strait charter flights in July last year, the number of Chinese tourist arrivals to Taiwan reached 1,200 per day during the first two weeks of this month, Yu said.

Taiwan-based aviation companies had an average passenger load factor of 86.8 per cent during the two-week period -- an indication that demand is strong, he reported.

During the period from Dec. 15, 2008 to March 15 this year, Taiwanese carriers operating cross-strait charter flights recorded an average passenger factor load of 74.3 per cent, ahead of their Chinese counterparts' 69.1 per cent, he detailed.

Civil Aeronautics Administration (CAA) Director-General Lee Lung-wen said last week that Taiwan aviation companies have asked for government permission to increase the number of cross-strait flights, probably by July, before regularly scheduled commercial cross-strait flights are launched.

Five Taiwan-based carriers and seven China-based aviation companies operated flights during the first week of the daily non-stop charter service, which kicked off on Dec. 15, 2008. The five Taiwanese carriers had an average passenger load factor of 73.8 per cent, slightly higher that the seven Chinese airlines's average of 72.6 per cent.

Meanwhile, the number of Chinese tourists to Taiwan has also been on the rise.

Compared to August 2008 when Chinese tourist arrivals totaled 8,900, the number recorded for January this year was 19,000, which however included the 11,058 during the week-long Lunar New Year holidays late in the month. The number of arrivals stood at 16,000 for February -- traditionally a low season for cross-strait tourism.

(CNA)
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Old March 23rd, 2009, 05:36 PM   #326
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CROSS-STRAIT AIR SERVICES THRIVE AMID AVIATION GLOOM

TAIPEI, March 23 Asia Pulse - A steep decline in travel demand since the final quarter of 2008 has led to flight reductions or route cancellations by air carriers worldwide. But there is an exception to this trend -- the direct air services between Taiwan and China that are becoming increasingly popular.

The cross-Taiwan Strait daily charter flights inaugurated Dec. 15, 2008 recorded an average passenger load factor of more than 70 per cent during the first two months of operations.

In March 2009, the load factor rose further, reaching 86.8 per cent in the second week of the month and skyrocketing to more than 90 per cent by the third week, statistics from the Civil Aeronautics Administration (CAA) show.

"Given the fact that March is usually an off season for the travel industry, the performance of the cross-strait charters stands out, " said Yeh Yung-ching, director of the CAA's Air Transport Division.

According to travel agent Lin Ko-pen, cross-strait flight tickets for travel periods of up to one month have almost all sold out, striking a sharp contrast to the slow sales for other routes.

For example, although tickets to Europe are being sold at discount prices, demand has not risen, the travel agent said.

"Seats are available at any time for flights to Europe, and flight reservations to Southeast Asian are also not very much in demand, "Lin said.

Owing to rising fuel prices in the first half of 2008 and the outbreak of the global financial crisis in the second half of the year, all five airlines companies in Taiwan recorded losses last year.

The two largest of these carriers -- China Airlines (TAIEX:2610) and EVA Airways Corp. (TAIEX:2618) -- each reported deficits of over NT$10 billion.

However, it appears that they are set to recover because of the strong demand for cross-strait flights and the rapid expansion of air services to meet that demand.

The growing number of Chinese tourists traveling to Taiwan and the estimated 1 million Taiwanese businesspeople and their executives operating in China are the backbone of this market.

Before the opening of direct air services between Taiwan, China, these businesspeople had for a long time complained about the inconvenience of having to travel across the strait via a third destination, usually Hong Kong or Macau.

In 2003, cross-strait passenger charter flights were launched for the first time to transport these businesspeople and their families home for the Chinese New Year holidays and back to China after that.

The services were expanded in 2006 to cover the Mid-Autumn Festival, and again in 2007 to accommodate travel during two other holidays -- the Tomb Sweeping and Dragon Boat festivals.

The growing demand for the flights led to the opening in July 2008 of weekend charter services. Five months later, the service was upgraded to daily charters, with the number of flights increased from 36 to 108 per week.

The number of destinations in China on the cross-strait route were also expanded to 21, to include Chengdu, Chongqing, Hangzhou, Dalian, Guilin, Shenzhen, Wuhan, Fuzhou, Qingdao, Changsha, Haikou, Kunming, Xi'an, Shenyang, Tianjin and Zhengzhou. Before that, the services were available only in five Chinese cities -- Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou, Xiamen and Nanjing.

In addition, the flights between Taiwan and destinations in northern China were made more direct -- they no longer had to detour through Hong Kong air space -- thus greatly reducing travel time.

The new nonstop charter flights between Taipei and Shanghai now take less than 90 minutes, as compared to nearly six hours previously on the route through Hong Kong.

CAA Director-General Lee Long-wen said that the fast growth of passenger load on the cross-strait flights signals an immediate need for increased capacity. He proposed that before the charter services are further upgraded to regular commercial flights, air carriers should increase the number of flights they provide on the cross-strait route.

He predicted that once the services become regular and flight frequencies increase in the future, there would be room for airfare cuts.

EVA Airways spokesman Nieh Kuo-wei explained that with more frequent flights, the airline companies operating the service will have greater flexibility to manage their fleets. Also, because of the larger cargo capacity on regular commercial flights, operating costs will be lower and revenues will be higher, he said.

However, demand and supply remain the most important factors in determining airfares, he added.
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Old March 27th, 2009, 06:41 PM   #327
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Taiwan Eyes Cross-Strait Passenger-Cum-Cargo Flights - Report
22 March 2009

TAIPEI (Dow Jones)--Taiwan will seek an agreement with China to allow the carrying of cargo on cross-strait passenger flights, the Commercial Times reported Saturday, citing Lee Long-Wen, director-general of the Civil Aeronautics Administration.

The request will be made when both sides discuss scheduled flights, the Chinese-language daily cited Lee as saying.

Taiwan and China currently operate 108 cross-strait charter passenger flights each week, with airlines from each side operating 54 flights.

Taiwan also will seek China's approval for re-exports to be carried on cross-strait cargo flights.

The agency also has applied to China for more cross-strait flights during the period leading up to and after the Tomb-Sweeping Festival, the report said.

The festival falls April 4.
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Old March 31st, 2009, 08:04 PM   #328
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Shandong Airlines Moves into Xiamen-Taiwan Air Market

XIAMEN, March 25, SinoCast -- Shandong Airlines Co., Ltd. (SZSE: 200152) opened a branch in Xiamen, an air travel city in southeast China towards Taiwan across the Taiwan Strait, on March 24, 2009, edging into the increasingly busy Xiamen-Taiwan aviation market.

Shandong Airlines, a local airline headquartered in the eastern Chinese city of Jinan in Shandong Province, is committed to the market's far-reaching development. It plans to yearly add one to two B737 airliners in Xiamen.

The midsize airline was approved in October 2007 to build an overnight flight base in Xiamen with three overnight airplanes. In the domestic market, it opens tens of air routes towards Changchun and Dalian in northeast China, Hohhot and Taiyuan in north China, Changsha in central China, and Nanning in south China, with 42 flights a week.

In 2008, it had a fleet of 37 jets with more than 700 flights a week.
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Old April 7th, 2009, 11:17 AM   #329
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Occupancy on cross-strait flights tops 90%, EVA says
2 April 2009
Taipei Times

Passenger occupancy on EVA Airways Corp's cross-strait flights reached 90 percent last month and demand is expected to remain strong, a company spokesman said yesterday.

Spokesman Nieh Kuo-wei said the launch of cross-strait weekend charter flights had not attracted many Chinese last year, as Chinese found flights to be inconvenient and infrequent. The occupancy rate last year was between 60 percent and 70 percent.

"Convenience is the most important thing [for passengers]," Nieh said.

However, since cross-strait daily chartered flights were inaugurated on Dec. 15, the increase in the number of flights and their convenience have begun to attract more interest from passengers.

The occupancy rate on flights to Beijing, Hangzhou and Shanghai all exceeded 90 percent last month, but China-based Taiwanese businesspeople were still the major users of the cross-strait charter flight services, Nieh said.

"Demand for cross-strait flights exceeds supply," Nieh said, adding that demand appeared to be unaffected by the financial crisis and was expected to continue growing.

Nieh said EVA Airways, the nation's second-largest air carrier, hoped the government would discuss expanding the number of flights with its Chinese counterpart during the next round of talks.

Domestic air carrier UNI Airways Corp, a subsidiary of EVA Airways, said yesterday the number of Chinese who visited Taiwan via a third destination reached 7,000 last month, adding that the number could double in July or August after China announced in February it would increase the number of travel agencies authorized to arrange tour groups to Taiwan to 146 from the initial 33.

"As a result, UNI Airways plans to increase the number of flights between Taipei and Kinmen, and Kaohsiung and Kinmen, by 20 percent in June to meet the expected increase in demand for our flight services," UNI Airways chief executive vice president Chen Shyong-jyh said.
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Old April 8th, 2009, 06:20 PM   #330
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國泰與港龍推優惠遊中國
8 April 2009
工商時報 .

力抗兩岸直航包機,國泰航空與港龍航空宣佈自2009年4月15日起至2009年6月30日止,推出「即時遊中國」優惠活動,包括上海3天2 夜每人新台幣10,088元起及北京4天3夜每人新台幣12,188元起的超低優惠。

「即時遊中國」套裝行程網羅上海及北京多家優質酒店,並提供旅客自由選擇搭乘國泰航空或港龍航空自台灣出發經香港轉機往返上海或北京的航班,唯上海套裝行程需為上海進出,北京套裝行程需為北京進出。

優惠活動的產品內容包括:國泰航空或港龍航空自台灣出發經香港轉機往返上海或北京的經濟艙來回機票、上海套裝行程可選擇連續3 天2夜或連續4天3夜住宿,北京套裝行程可選擇連續4天3夜或連續5天 4夜住宿,各有5組酒店可供選擇,並提供每日酒店早餐,以及500萬元旅遊平安保險(依法14歲以上之旅客適用)、10萬元意外醫療保險及24小時海外救援服務。
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Old April 9th, 2009, 04:04 AM   #331
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Third-Round Talks May Realize Regular Cross-Strait Flights

Taipei, April 8, 2009 (CENS)--Reports are that a pact to allow regular direct Cross-strait flights is to be signed at the upcoming third round Cross-strait talks slated for May. The pact may allow daily flights between Taiwan and China’s large cities as Beijing, Shanghai and Hangzhou, with no more than two domestic airlines in Taiwan to fly such routes.

Lee Lung-wen, director general at the Civil Aeronautics Administration (CAA) under the Ministry of Transportation and Communications (MOTC), indicated that before the talks, Taiwan’s Straits Exchange Foundation and China’s Association for Relations Across the Taiwan Strait will engage in negotiations in mid-April.

With 108 Cross-strait chartered flights weekly, last week Taiwan’s two leading airlines—China Airlines and EVA Airways—both recorded a loading rate of 93.9%, with the corresponding percentages of their Chinese counterparts being 83.6%.

Such high loading rates suggest more flights are needed, especially since China has relaxed restrictions on sightseeing travel to Taiwan. Now over 2,000 Chinese travel to Taiwan daily, and the figure is forecast to grow gradually.

Insiders disclosed that Beijing, Shanghai, Hangzhou, and Shenzhen might be destinations for regular Cross-strait flights.
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Old April 10th, 2009, 10:12 AM   #332
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Cross-strait talks likely to be held in Nanjing, MAC says
10 April 2009
Taipei Times

The next high-level cross-strait talks are likely to be held in Nanjing, China, the Mainland Affairs Council (MAC) said yesterday.

MAC Deputy Minister Liu Te-shun said as Straits Exchange Foundation (SEF) Chairman Chiang Pin-kung and his Chinese counterpart, Association for Relations Across the Taiwan Strait (ARATS) Chairman Chen Yun-lin, had agreed at their last meeting that the next meeting would be held outside Beijing, Taipei proposed that it be held in Nanjing.

Liu said the date for the meeting had not been finalized, but it would take place either next month or in June.

Both sides still needed to iron out some differences before the exact time and place of the meeting is settled, Liu said. He did not elaborate.

As the next round of Chiang-Chen meeting approaches, the MAC has also stepped up its promotion of the government's cross-strait policies.

The council yesterday released TV commercials featuring Lai in Mandarin and Hoklo (also known as Taiwanese) and Mandarin and Hakka. The 40-second and 90-second films, which begin airing on certain channels today, depict the cross-strait policy of the former Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) government as closed-door compared with that of the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) administration.

MAC Chairman Lai Shin-yuan said her council was like the "door gods" who welcome guests, ward off evil spirits and protect the family. All cross-strait negotiations would be conducted on the basis that Taiwan and the people come first, she said, adding that the government would do its best to protect the sovereignty and security of the nation when negotiating.

At a separate setting yesterday, Chiang said the government would talk about the possibility of opening more cities in China to cross-strait charter flights in the forthcoming talks.

As of last month, the average occupancy rate for cross-strait charter flights had topped 96 percent, he said, adding that the current 108 charter flights per week would soon be unable to meet the rising demand.

Chiang said officials at the Ministry of Transportation and Communications were negotiating with their counterparts on issues related to regular daily flights and additional airports that can be opened for cross-strait flights.
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Old April 15th, 2009, 10:08 AM   #333
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FAT's hopes flicker with cancelation of flight rights;
EXPIRED: The CAA said the company's right to operate several international routes had already expired in January, but the firm has a chance at cross-strait flights

13 April 2009
Taipei Times

Far Eastern Air Transport's (FAT) hopes for resuming operations dimmed as the Civil Aeronautics Administration (CAA) said yesterday it had withdrawn the firm's right to operate several profitable international routes.

CAA Deputy Director-General Lin Shinn-der said FAT's right to operate the international flights had already expired in January.

"If we do not withdraw [the rights], other airlines would say that this is really a waste of the nation's aviation resources. So now they can go ahead and take over," Lin said.

FAT still holds the rights to operate flights to the nation's outlying islands and the CAA has also reserved a spot for FAT to operate cross-strait flights, Lin said.

The CAA said FAT would not be able to fly to Incheon and Jeju in Korea, U-Tapao International Airport and Phuket in Thailand, Hanoi and Da Nang in Vietnam, Bali in Indonesia, Laoag in the Philippines and Kota Kinabalu and Kuching in Malaysia. It will soon open these flights to other airlines.

The CAA ruling makes it less likely that the debt-ridden company will be able to survive following its application with the Taipei District Court to restructure its finances last year and its aircraft being impounded as collateral for banks.

The court is scheduled to rule on the application by May 16, but the airline is unlikely to be able to join negotiations for the distribution of cross-strait flights after the third cross-strait talk in Nanjing next month.

One of the topics on the agenda is whether to change from a cross-strait charter flight service to a regular cross-strait flight service. The key difference is that charter flights can be canceled if there are not enough passengers for the flight, while regular flights cannot.

In related news, Aviation Safety Council (ASC) director Yang Hung-chi said yesterday that officials from Taiwan and China had been discussing cross-strait flight safety issues. He said the two sides are likely to agree that, given the special status of Taiwan-China relations, in the case of accidents involving cross-strait flights, the right to launch investigations would be determined by where the accident happened. Two designated *handover points now demarcate each side's flight control zone.

The handover point for the flights to northern China is called Sulem, which is located at 27N and 122E on the map. Flights to southern China must follow handover procedures at the designated flight control area near Hong Kong.
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Old April 15th, 2009, 12:37 PM   #334
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GENERAL AVIATION COMPANIES PUSH FOR CROSS-TAIWAN STRAIT OPENING

TAIPEI, April 15 Asia Pulse - Six Taiwanese general aviation companies appealed to the government Tuesday to allow them to operate private charters across the Taiwan Strait targeted at high-end businesses and corporate leaders.

They made the appeal after a meeting with three Chinese operators in the general aviation sector in Taipei.

The low-profile meeting was also attended by Taiwan's Civil Aeronautics Administration (CAA) Director-General Lee Long-wen and Wang Changshun, deputy director of the Civil Aviation Administration of China.

Prior to last year, these small aviation companies were banned from carrying passengers and cargo, with their services limited to aerial photography, atmospheric observation and measurement, construction services, and medical transport.

Taiwan then amended the Civil Aviation Law last year to allow general aviation operators to offer "special business flight services" for corporate clients.

Under an agreement signed by Taiwan and China in November 2008, however, the two countries only agreed to liberalize cross-Taiwan Strait direct charter passenger and cargo flights, and allow businessmen to fly to and from China in their private corporate jets.

Companies offering exclusive commercial services in small aircraft to business clients were excluded from the agreement, even though demand for such service has grown markedly in the past year.

According to CAA surveys, many enterprises have expressed an interest in leasing private aircraft to handle business traffic between Taiwan and China.

(CNA)
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Old April 17th, 2009, 03:24 PM   #335
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CAA denies secret talks about cross-strait flights
The Civil Aeronautics Administration denied a report that its director-general had been on a secretive mission to Shanghai to discuss aviation issues
17 April 2009
Taipei Times

Dismissing allegations that talks on increasing the number of cross-strait charter flights were being conducted in a "secretive manner," the Civil Aeronautics Administration (CAA) yesterday also denied that negotiations with China on the topic had stalled.

The CAA's statement came after a report in the Chinese-language United Daily News yesterday that CAA Director-General Lee Lung-wen had left for Shanghai on Monday on a secretive mission to negotiate about cross-strait aviation issues.

The United Daily News said the CAA had proposed that both sides increase the number of weekly charter flights before *regular cross-strait flights officially start in July, because the occupancy rate of direct cross-strait flights had exceeded an average of 90 percent.

However, China opposed the proposal, the newspaper reported.

Lee had been scheduled to brief the media after attending the weekly ministry meeting yesterday, but he left the meeting as soon as it was over and sent CAA chief secretary Chen Tien-tsyh to answer reporters' questions.

Chen did not comment on his supervisor's alleged secret trip to Shanghai, saying simply that Lee was "very low-key when it comes to details of cross-strait negotiations."

The CAA, however, issued a press release saying that it would be inappropriate to disclose details of cross-strait negotiations because any agreements were still subject to change.

Chen said the average occupancy rate of cross-strait flights was about 89 percent, with the average occupancy rate of Taiwanese airlines reaching about 90 percent and that of Chinese airlines 86.1 percent.

The number of Chinese tourists entering the nation hit a record high of 5,379 on Wednesday, with the daily average expected to top 4,100 next week, Chen said.

These numbers do not include the tour groups direct marketing firm Amway China has been sending to Taiwan as part of an incentive scheme.

Tourism Bureau director-*general Janice Lai said the National Immigration Agency last week decided to move the unused quota for Chinese tourists between January and last month to this month so that more Chinese tourists could be allowed to visit the country.

"The unused quota will also be used on the Labor Day weekend," she said.

In related news, the Tourism Bureau said it had placed another 500 hotels on the list of lodgings qualified to accommodate the increasing number of Chinese tourists.

"We were able to do so because we have dropped the daily charge for Chinese tourists from US$80 to US$60, and we have also lowered the cap on the number of Chinese tourists in a group from 10 to five, so more local hotels, hostels and farm houses are able to provide accommodation for Chinese tourists," Lai said.

She said she hoped airlines on both sides of the Strait would be able to make more seats available sooner to clear up delays in the application process for Chinese tourists.
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Old April 20th, 2009, 07:44 AM   #336
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China's Xiamen Air fined for violating permit traveling rules
20 April 2009
The China Post

TAOYUAN, Taiwan -- The National Immigration Agency (NIA) urged airlines and travel agencies on both sides of the Taiwan Strait yesterday to abide by the regulations after it fined a Chinese air carrier NT$1.85 million for taking a group of Chinese tourists to Taiwan without entry and exit permits.

Xiamen Airlines, based in China's southeastern Fujian Province, carried 37 Chinese tourists from northeastern Shenyang City to Taiwan on Saturday.

But the members of the group tour were denied entry at the airport, and were turned back to China for lack of entry and exit permits.

NIA officials said airlines are subject to a fine of NT$20,000 to NT$100,000 for carrying one passenger to Taiwan without adequate required documents.

The fine was set at NT$30,000 per person for violating the rule in the Xiamen Airlines case.

NIA data show that airlines were fined for 323 similar cases in 2007 and 403 cases in 2008. There were 148 cases so far this year.

NIA officials said airlines and travel agencies should stick to the regulations so as not to affect the interests of their customers.

Officials of the opposition Democratic Progressive Party said the case shows that it is necessary for Taiwan to tighten regulations, including scrapping the current convenient measures that allow Chinese tourists to make up required documents after landing in Taiwan.

They said Taiwan still faces high risks concerning national security and the possible spread of epidemic disease from China.

The current administration should always maintain high alert on Beijing's attempt to test possible security breaches on this side of Taiwan, they said.

The DPP will discuss security issues across the Taiwan Strait at a meeting this noon.
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Old April 23rd, 2009, 01:32 PM   #337
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Direct flights across strait may be doubled
23 April 2009
South China Morning Post

Direct flights across the strait by mainland and Taiwan carriers are expected to double to more than 200 a week, a move that would put pressure on Cathay Pacific Airways for the lucrative route, Air China chairman Kong Dong said yesterday.

"I think it is highly likely that officials from both sides will agree to double the number of flights to 216 because there is a mutual need," Mr Kong said in Hong Kong.

Top liaison officials from the mainland's Association for Relations Across the Taiwan Strait and the Taiwanese Straits Exchange Foundation are scheduled to meet on Sunday to discuss economic matters ranging from direct flights to co-operation in the financial sector. A vice-president of Air China is one of the mainland delegates.

Hong Kong and Macau, which had benefited from triangular routes between the mainland and Taiwan for decades, would be hit hard once the direct link service was doubled, Mr Kong said.

"I acknowledge that it is a big headache for Cathay [in which Air China has a 17.5 per cent stake] and an even bigger hit to Air Macau, in which we have a 51 per cent stake," he said.

"But Hong Kong has to realise that they have been taking advantage of the absence of a direct link for so long and should not want for more."

Mr Kong said Cathay was a well-managed company and could find other ways to offset the damage. The airline could lure Taiwanese passengers to travel through Hong Kong to Europe or the United States instead of the mainland, he said.

A spokesman for Cathay said the airline would closely monitor the development of direct links between the mainland and Taiwan.

Cathay operates 13 daily flights between Hong Kong and Taiwan. The airline said last Friday that it would put the flights on "ad hoc" cancellations, meaning it might cancel underbooked flights, beginning in May, to cope with any downturn in demand.

The direct flights are a rare lucrative source of revenue for mainland and Taiwanese carriers because the traffic demand across the strait has been far greater than the limited capacity.

The passenger yield - per seat per kilometre - from a direct flight is much higher than on domestic and international routes.

One executive from a leading mainland airline said the passenger yield on direct flights was 80 fen to 1 yuan (HK$1.13), compared with an average 59 fen to 63 fen for the Big Three mainland carriers.

But due to the limited number of flights allowed on the route, direct flights account for less than 1 per cent of total revenue for Air China.

Air China and China Southern Airlines each operate 10 weekly flights to Taiwan while China Eastern Airlines Corp runs 12 weekly flights.

The load factor - the percentage of seats sold - on Air China's direct flight is about 78 per cent, which is at least 8 percentage points lower than that of Taiwanese carriers.

Mr Kong said the load factor did not reflect the actual demand from the mainland side as that had been suppressed by the more complicated visa application process.
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Old April 27th, 2009, 07:00 PM   #338
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China Eastern likely to be largest beneficiary from expanded direct cross-strait

BEIJING, April 27 (Xinhua) – China Eastern Airlines is expected to be its largest beneficiary of the direct cross-strait flights which will be expanded upon an agreement signed by the Chinese mainland and Taiwan on Sunday.

According to the agreement, regular flights will be opened between the two sides to replace the regular chartered flights. Two direct flight routes will be added across the straits. The Chinese mainland will add six flight nodes on the routes to Taiwan including the cities of Hefei, Harbin, Nanchang, Guiyang, Ningbo and Jinan.

Of the six newly added flight nodes, Hefei, Nanchang and Ningbo are home to China Eastern's base companies. Based on this, China Eastern is expected to gain from the agreement the most.

Along with the more frequent economic activities between the Chinese mainland and Taiwan, the passenger load factor on the cross-strait flights usually marked above 80 percent and managed above 70 percent during the low flight season, much higher than that of other flight routes in the Chinese mainland.

Luo Zhuping, board secretary with China Eastern, also noted that the average load factor of its flights on the routes to Taiwan is between 80 and 90 percent. If new flight nodes are added, China Eastern will arrange flights accordingly, Luo said.
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Old April 29th, 2009, 06:53 AM   #339
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CAA to plan flight allocation; Taipei, Shanghai airports up next
28 April 2009
The China Post

TAIPEI, Taiwan -- The Civil Aeronautics Administration (CAA) has started working on a plan to allocate the significantly increased direct charter and scheduled flights across the Taiwan Strait, set to start in July at the earliest.

CAA officials said the agency is ready to work out a draft plan this week and then call a coordination meeting with air carries to lay down the general guidelines.

The number of direct flights was steeply increased to 270 per week from 108, while the destinations were raised by six to 27 following the latest round of negotiations between Taiwan and China in Nanjing Sunday.

But only four of Taiwan's top air carriers will be able to serve certain busy routes, such as sharing the 28 weekly flights between Shanghai and Taiwan's Taoyuan International Airport and Songshan Airport in Taipei.

Executives of the leading carriers have been working out the soundest plans to jockey for the best position for the more lucrative routes.

The officials said it is not easy to quickly complete the allocation because they have to first finalize exactly how many direct charter flights and scheduled flights there will be.

But they said the airlines' domestic flight service in Taiwan will be listed as a factor in the distribution plan to ensure not only equality, but also achieve a balance in service to different destinations.

Leading airlines were generally pleased with the sharply increased number of flights. But some travel agencies expressed the concern that the addition of only eight new flights to Shanghai will still not be able to meet customer demand.

Shanghai presently ranks as the top city for airline passengers for businessmen and tourists from Taiwan, followed, in order, by Beijing, Zhenzheng, Hangzhou and Guangzhou.

Taiwan opened eight destinations for the cross-strait flights, but airlines applied flights to only four cities with high concentration at Taoyuan International Airport and Songshan Airport in Taipei, both in northern Taiwan.

There are so far only limited numbers of chartered flights to Taichung in central Taiwan, and southern port-city Kaohsiung.

Some travel agencies said they were disappointed that Songshan Airport was only allocated 21 direct cross-strait flights a week in the new agreement.

CAA officials stressed that opening of direct charter flights between Songshan and Shanghai's Hongqiao Airport will be discussed in the next round of aviation negotiations.

Songshan Airport, in the northeastern part of Taipei, served as the country's international airport until 1979. It has exclusively handled domestic flights since then, but was opened to direct charter flights from China last year when air links between the two countries were liberalized.

Located a short drive away from most of Taipei's commercial centers, compared to the 50-minute drive between the city and Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport, the airport is favored by business travelers both in Taiwan and China, as well as all airlines for its convenience.

Explaining the small number of flights to and from China allocated to the airport, CAA officials said they wanted to reserve the airport's capacity for potential flights from other city airports in Asia, such as Shanghai's Hongqiao Airport, Tokyo's Haneda International Airport and Seoul's Kimpo International Airport.

Songshan Airport was also not included in the agreement among airports allowed to handle regularly scheduled flights.

CAA officials said Songshan Airport is only allowed to operate direct cross-strait charter flights because regular scheduled flights can transport cargo, but Songshan Airport's facilities are not capable of handling cargo at present.
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Old April 29th, 2009, 12:14 PM   #340
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Airlines urged to cut fares after regular cross-strait flights start
26 April 2009
The China Post

Taipei, Taiwan -- A top aviation official yesterday called for airlines to seriously consider cutting flight ticket prices after both sides of the Taiwan Strait kick off regular direct cross-strait passenger flight services.

Lee Long-wen, director-general of the Civil Aeronautics Administration (CAA) under the Ministry of Transportation and Communications, issued the call on the eve of the third-round talks between Chairman P.K. Chiang of the Straits Exchange Foundation (SEF) and his Chinese counterpart, Chairman Chen Yunlin of the Association for Relations Across the Taiwan Strait (ARATS).

During the talks that will open today in Nanjing, China, both sides are slated to sign several pacts, including one on allowing regular direct cross-strait flight services.

Lee said that after the pact is signed and put into effect, both the number of daily passenger flights and flight destinations will increase significantly, and there should be room for the reduction of direct-flight ticket fares.

Accordingly, airlines operating direct regularly-scheduled passenger flights should consider slashing their ticket fares to meet expectations by consumers.

Both sides of the Taiwan Straits started last December to exchange charter flight services on a daily basis, based on an aviation agreement signed during the second Chiang-Chen talks in Taipei in November 2008. Under that pact, both sides are allowed to each operate 54 flights per week.

Transportation and Communications Minister Mao Chi-kuo said late last year that airlines operating the charter flight services should review their ticket pricing system, and deputy director-general Lin Hsin-der of the CAA even said that cross-strait flight ticket fares can be cut by at at least 10-20 percent.

This caused quite a few consumers to expect cheaper ticket prices, but the expectation has failed to be realized over the past four months, because the ever-increasing passenger loading rate has made airlines unwilling to reduce ticket fares. Some airlines even hiked their ticket fares for popular flight routes, yet some consumers still had difficulty booking flight tickets.

In response, most airlines declined to reveal whether they would reduce ticket fares after regular direct cross-strait flight services are launched, saying that the price fluctuation will be linked with the market supply and demand situation.

Some airline firms said that there will be 14 airlines operating the regular cross-straits flights, and therefore passengers should be able to enjoy cheaper prices amid competition among the firms.

But some said if all the flights are fully occupied due to strong market demand, then the chances will be slim for the flight ticket fares to be reduced.
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