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Old September 10th, 2004, 07:29 PM   #81
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SEPT 10, 2004
Taiwanese, Chinese airlines sign first mileage agreement

TAIPEI - Taiwan's largest carrier and the mainland's China Eastern Airlines said on Friday they will begin sharing mileage programs beginning Oct 1 in the first such deal between airlines across the Taiwan Strait.

The arrangement will allow passengers flying Taiwan's China Airlines to continue accumulating frequent flier miles after they change planes and fly China Eastern to the mainland, the Taiwanese carrier said in a statement.

The two carriers cannot fly directly between Taiwan and China because the government here has banned such flights after the rivals split amid civil war in 1949. Most travellers stop in Hong Kong or Macau and change airlines before flying on to Taiwan or China.

China Airlines said it offers a total 105 weekly flights to Hong Kong from Taiwan's two biggest cities: Taipei and Kaohsiung.

'At the first stage, all China Airlines international flights and sectors of China Eastern's Hong Kong-Shanghai and Okinawa-Shanghai flights will be eligible for this cooperation programme,' the Taiwanese carrier said.

'In the future, both airlines will expand the cooperation network,' the company said. 'China Airlines is also negotiating mileage program cooperation with other Chinese carriers.'

Long-standing political disputes have blocked Taiwan and China from signing a pact that would allow direct flights. Taiwan's government has been under increasing pressure from a growing number of Taiwanese businesses that have invested heavily in China to open up direct transport links.

Taiwan's government has estimated that Taiwanese make more than 3 million trips to China each year.

The government has said opening direct flights would reduce passengers' travel costs by about NT$13.2 billion (US$388.2 million) per year and reduce their travel time by 8.6 million hours. -- AP

Copyright @ 2004 Singapore Press Holdings. All rights reserved.
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Old September 10th, 2004, 07:41 PM   #82
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Here is another perspective from the Dow Jones newswire :

China Eastern, Taiwan's China Air Link Air Miles Programs
Friday September 10, 6:00 AM EDT

SHANGHAI (Dow Jones)--China Eastern Airlines Corp. (CEA), a leading mainland China
carrier, and Taiwan's China Airlines (2610.TW) signed an agreement Friday linking their frequent flier programs.

Under the agreement, which takes effect Oct. 1, members of China Eastern's Eastern Miles program will be able to
accumulate air miles when flying on China Airlines, while members of the Taiwanese carrier's Dynasty program will
be able to do the same when flying on the Shanghai-based carrier, company executives said at a press
conference.

Members of the programs will also be able to trade their air miles for tickets or upgrades in either airline's mileage
program on selected routes, the carriers said.

Taiwanese traveling back and forth between the island and China for business are expected to be the main
beneficiaries initially, as mass Chinese travel to Taiwan remains restricted by both Taipei and Beijing.

Taiwan and China split in 1949 amid civil war and direct flights
between the two have been banned since. Cross-strait travel
is usually via Hong Kong and involves a change of carrier.

About 500,000 Taiwanese are estimated to live in the Yangtze
River delta region around Shanghai, and Taiwanese business
people will likely make up the bigger portion of the mileage
exchange program initially, said Brian Zhou, senior vice
president of marketing at Taiwan's largest carrier.

The most significant deal between the two airlines was China
Airlines' acquisition of a 25% stake in a cargo unit controlled
by China Eastern.

-By J.R. Wu, Dow Jones Newswires; 8621 6218-3268;
[email protected]

-Edited by Andrew Bullard
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Old September 11th, 2004, 08:40 AM   #83
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Airlines fight competition from China

CROSS-STRAIT FLIGHTS: An agreement between China and Hong Kong to improve air services has prompted local carriers to look at means of enhancing their appeal

By Jessie Ho
STAFF REPORTER, THE TAIPEI TIMES
Saturday, Sep 11, 2004, Page 10

Local air carriers are pondering ways of improving their cross-strait routes in response to an agreement signed by China and Hong Kong to expand passenger and cargo air services, which may snatch a slice out of Taiwanese airlines' profits, company officials said.

Beijing on Wednesday announced a plan to open more flights between Hong Kong and various cities in China. Under the agreement, overall passenger capacity between China and Hong Kong will be increased by 30 percent from next month, which gives Hong Kong carriers an advantage in operating cross-strait routes in terms of time and costs.

"I think the pact will more or less influence our business on China routes ... we will provide more incentives to secure our customers," said Roger Han, spokesman for China Airlines, the nation's largest carrier.

China Airlines and smaller rival EVA Airways Corp fly to various cities in China via Hong Kong or Macau. As direct transportation between Taiwan and China is still banned, the two companies work with Chinese airlines to carry their passengers from Hong Kong or Macau to China.

Although Hong Kong and Macau airlines departing from Taipei also need to stop at a third destination before flying to China, they are allowed to enter the communist country with the same planes, which shortens transfer times and reduces the hassle of moving passengers from one plane to another. In addition, these carriers have more flexibility in cost control compared with Taiwanese carriers.

Currently, Air Macau is applying the model, which allows it to keep stopover times to under an hour.

The strategy works to attract business travelers, said Jerry Lin, a deputy manager at Lion Travel Service Co, the nation's largest travel agency.

Lin said although Air Macau offers only three flights a week from Taipei to Shanghai, the destination in China most visited by Taiwanese travelers, the company's service has attracted many business travelers, which constitute 70 percent of all Taiwanese passengers flying to China.

As Chinese carriers have bad records as far as following flight schedules is concerned, business passengers tend to choose Air Macau to avoid delays, Lin said.

Han said that local carriers' business will be significantly affected if Cathay Pacific Airways, the dominant carrier in Hong Kong, and smaller Dragonair also adopt the model.

To secure customers, China Airlines announced a deal to cooperate on its mileage programs with China Eastern Airlines Corp to transfer its customers from Hong Kong to Shanghai. The plan would enable passengers of China Airlines flying between Taiwan and China to accumulate airmiles on the entire trip, starting next month.

Han said China Airlines hopes to create more frequent flyers with the partnership, adding that the company intends to extend the program to Air China, which carries its passengers to Beijing.

China Airlines will also seek other stopover destinations, Han said. For example, passengers going to Shanghai will be able to stop over in Okinawa, which has a smaller airport and would ensure easier and faster transfers, he said.

EVA Airways' public relations specialist Eric Lin said his company is also aware of the potential threat and has engaged in talks with partners to improve service and reduce transfer times.
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Old October 2nd, 2004, 07:45 AM   #84
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Copyright 2004 South China Morning Post Ltd.
October 2, 2004

Taipei asks for dialogue on air links
Jacky Hsu in Taipei

Taipei has invited Beijing to send a delegation to the island to discuss charter flight services between the two sides of the Taiwan Strait.

"The mainland side has called for bilateral charter flight services, and we do not rule this out," said Joseph Wu Jau-shieh, chairman of the Mainland Affairs Council.

"As the issue would involve changing the current flight route, we have invited the mainland to send a delegation here to negotiate."

Mr Wu said any delegation was welcome, as long as it had the proper authorisation from Beijing.

But he said such the talks should be held with no preconditions - such as Taipei having to agree to the one-China policy.

Taiwan launched a charter flight service two years ago on a trial basis during the Lunar New Year holiday, and only Taiwanese airliners were allowed to operate the service via a third location, such as Macau and Hong Kong.

There was no repeat of the charter flights during last year's Lunar New Year holiday after the mainland called for a reciprocal service.

Mr Wu appealed for peace with the mainland, saying the two sides should sit down and talk.

The central government is not expected to immediately embrace Mr Wu's offer as it has consistently said that any talks between the two sides must be held in accordance with the one-China principle.
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Old October 7th, 2004, 09:48 PM   #85
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Thursday October 7, 9:12 AM
Taipei Mayor Touts Sungshan Airport for Direct Links

TAIPEI, Oct 7 Asia Pulse - Taipei Mayor Ma Ying-jeou was keenly touting Sungshan Airport as a hub for direct transport links with mainland China, saying that the opening will reduce travel time for Taiwan businessmen traveling between the two sides by more than 25 per cent.

Ma made the remarks at a seminar Tuesday with local business community leaders and representatives.

Claiming that direct air links between Taipei, Shanghai and Dongguan will save passengers a great deal of time, Ma contended that Taipei's Sungshan Airport should be made into an exclusive gateway for cross-strait travel, while Chiang Kai-shek International Airport in neighboring Taoyuan should continue to handle international passenger and cargo travel.

Ma said that Taiwan should make the move to sharpen its competitive edge and create business opportunities in view of the grouping of economies in Southeast Asia and Northeast Asia by 2010, when mainland China is slated to sign a free trade agreement (FTA) with member states of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, Japan and South Korea.

By that time, the economic development in Northeast Asian and Southeast Asian countries will be integrated, he said.

Apart from this, he pointed out, the closer economic partnership arrangements inked by the mainland with Hong Kong and Macau will put Taiwan at a disadvantage, as a large number of products from the two territories are set to enjoy "zero-tariff" treatment.

Should Taiwan fail to make breakthroughs in FTAs with other countries, it will lose the vast mainland market to Japan, South Korea and other Southeast Asian countries, he warned.

Compared with the mainland, which absorbs US$50 billion in foreign investment per year, Taiwan took in only US$3.6 billion last year, he noted.

The Taipei mayor said that Taiwan cannot afford to overlook the mainland market, citing a forecast by the Far Eastern Economic Review that the mainland will have replaced the United States as the world's largest economy by 2020.

(CNA)
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Old October 11th, 2004, 07:25 PM   #86
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Monday October 11, 7:38 AM
Taiwan President Calls for Cross-Strait Talks on 3 Links

TAIPEI, Oct 11 Asia Pulse - President Chen Shui-bian called for talks on direct "three-links" between Taiwan and mainland China as soon as possible on the Republic of China's National Day on Sunday.

In his address delivered at the 2004 National Day rally held in front of the Presidential Office, Chen noted that the executive branch is currently formulating a plan to provide convenient and efficient ways to facilitate charter flights for passengers and cargo.


"It is our earnest hope that cross-strait consultations can begin as soon as possible to seek further progress in the 'three-link' policy," Chen stressed.

Officials of the Ministry of Economic Affairs (MOEA) said the president's address extended considerable goodwill to mainland China, and if the two sides of the Taiwan Strait can therefore begin talks and realize the "three-links," economic and trade development on both sides can prosper.

Given the frequent cross-strait economic and trade interactions, the Chinese market will continue to have a high degree of political risk if talks cannot begin, MOEA officials warned.

Representatives of the civil aviation industry echoed the president's words by expressing the hope that direct air transportation can be established as soon as possible between Taiwan and China, which they said could save a great deal in transportation costs between the two sides and thus accelerate cross-strait exchanges.

Currently, carriers operating flights between Taiwan and mainland China are required to stop at a third place -- Hong Kong or Macau -- since direct cross-strait air links are prohibited.

Officials of China Airlines and EVA Airways Corp. said they will do whatever the government stipulates, and said that they hope that detailed regulations can be drawn up soon.

They also expressed the hope that the Chinese government can respond positively to President Chen's appeals.

Noting that Taiwanese businessmen make a total of four million visits between Taiwan and China via Hong Kong a year, the officials said the additional cost spent by passengers for interruption in travel is about NT$30 billion (US$884 million).

Figure in the additional costs for the aviation industry, and indirect cross-strait air transport increases the total transport cost by NT$100 billion, the officials added.

They called for an early implementation of convenient transport between the two sides to reduce the costs in time and money.

(CNA)
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Old October 14th, 2004, 04:02 AM   #87
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Impasse over strait flights blamed on Taipei's obstruction
Nailene Chou Wiest and Jacky Hsu
14 October 2004
South China Morning Post

Beijing yesterday took an unyielding position on Taipei's proposal for charter flights across the Taiwan Strait, saying such services must be treated as "domestic affairs".

Taiwan Affairs Office spokesman Zhang Mingqing said Beijing's position - summarised in a 12-word precondition issued last year - was that such flights were domestic affairs and the current impasse between the two sides on the issue was because Taipei did not agree on the precondition.

The precondition stated that direct flights across the Taiwan Strait must be "domestic, bilateral and reciprocal as well as beneficial to the two sides".

Mr Zhang said the mainland made an exception last year to allow Taiwanese airlines to operate charter flights that touched down in Hong Kong. Authorities in Fujian made arrangements to help Taiwanese businessmen return to the island for Lunar New Year celebrations in January - even though full charter services had not been set up this year.

The spokesman stressed that Beijing would not harm the interests of Taiwanese businessmen who had invested in the mainland, despite the mainland's struggle with what he called "independent forces" in Taiwan.

"We always believe Taiwanese compatriots are our brothers in flesh and blood," Mr Zhang said. "You can rest assured that they are different from [Taiwanese President] Chen Shui-bian and his cohorts, who stubbornly insist on taking the Taiwan independence path."

Taiwan responded to Mr Zhang's comment yesterday by saying cross-strait bilateral flights should not be blocked by political obstacles.

"We should not let the 12-word precondition become an obstacle to future lunar New Year charter flights between the two sides," said cabinet spokesman Chen Chi-mai.

Chiu Tai-san, spokesman and vice-chairman of the Mainland Affairs Council, said the cross-strait issue hinged on one word - "willingness".

"If the mainland is willing to do something, it can drop its precondition," he said.

"The Lunar New Year charter flight was a good example. At that time, Beijing did not insist on the 'one-China' principle before finally giving the green light."
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Old October 17th, 2004, 05:34 AM   #88
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BBC Monitoring International Reports
October 11, 2004

TAIWAN AIR CARRIERS POISED FOR CROSS-STRAIT DIRECT LINKS

Taipei, 11 October: Taiwan-based air carriers are keenly hoping for direct transport links across the Taiwan Strait after President Chen Shui-bian called for an early resumption of negotiations on the issue in his 10 October National Day address.

Chen said that the government's executive branch is currently devising a plan to provide a convenient and swift way to facilitate charter flights for passengers and cargo, and he voiced his hope that cross-strait consultations can begin as soon as possible to seek further progress in the "three-links" policy.

China Airlines (CAL) and EVA Airways Corporation - Taiwan's two largest aviation companies - said that they Beijing should respond quickly to Chen's call considering that the move would benefit both sides.

Taking factors such as travel time, fuel costs and market share into consideration, they contended that technical issues centring on cargo travel are easier to handle and urged the Taiwan authorities to put forward concrete measures, such as allowing mainland China's carriers to offer the same services.

According to the civil aviation sector, Taiwan people make about four million trips every year to mainland China via a third country or area, incurring an extra cost of about NT$ 30 billion.

If extra flying time and fuel costs are added, they pointed out that the total cost through a third area - usually Hong Kong or Macao - is about 100bn NT dollars (2.94bn dollars) per year.

According to estimates by the Cabinet-level Mainland Affairs Council (MAC) , the volume of present indirect cargo travel between Taiwan and mainland China amounts to around 73,000 tons each year. MAC officials said that the level will further increase after travel links are set up.

In an effort to tap the cross-strait market, CAL has signed an accord for joint operations with the mainland's Air China, China Southern Airlines Co, Ltd. and China Eastern Air, Ltd. It also inked cooperative ventures with shipping and bus companies based in Hong Kong to provide better land and sea travel.

CAL, Taiwan's No 1 carrier, opened an office in Guangzhou earlier this year and has increased flights between Taiwan and Hong Kong.

A CAL executive said that there will be no technical problems for cross-strait air travel and that they welcome other aviation companies to join the service. He said that CAL will do its best to cooperate with the government when concrete measures are worked out and put in place.

The MAC has announced that future cross-strait routes will be open to six carriers based in Taiwan.

An assessment by the Taipei Aviation Industry Association shows that direct cross-strait air links will help passengers flying between the two sides save some 50 per cent in travel time on single trips and that carriers can save from 50,000 to 80,000 US dollars in operating costs on a round trip.

Meanwhile, stock market watchers predicted that President Chen's proposal on this front will inject momentum to shipping and aviation company shares in the coming days.

Source: Central News Agency web site, Taipei, in English 1116 gmt 11 Oct 04
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Old October 22nd, 2004, 07:38 PM   #89
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Friday October 22, 8:04 AM
Chinese New Year Cross-Strait Charter Flights a Possibility

TAIPEI, Oct 22 Asia Pulse - Direct charter flights across the Taiwan Strait during the upcoming Chinese New Year holiday may still be possible, Mainland Affairs Council (MAC) Vice Chairman Chiu Tai-san said.

Chiu said even though Beijing may be unwilling to discuss with Taiwan the opening of regular direct cross-strait charter passenger and cargo flights before the island's Dec. 11 legislative elections, it may still be willing to consider special cross-strait charter flights during the lunar new year holiday to facilitate the return of Taiwan business people operating in mainland China, commonly known as "taishang," for family reunions.

Mainland China allowed major Taiwan carriers to operate special charter flights between Shanghai and Taipei/Kaohsiung via Hong Kong/Macau during the 2003 Chinese New Year holiday for the convenience of home-bound "taishang." Such services were not offered during the 2004 Chinese New Year season because Beijing declined to negotiate technical details for mainland Chinese carriers to operate similar charter flights.

If the two sides can reach an agreement allowing Taiwan and mainland Chinese carriers to operate special non-stop, cross-strait charter flights during the upcoming Chinese New Year holiday, which runs from Feb. 6-13, 2005, Chiu said, it will mark a new breakthrough in the development of cross-strait relations.

(CNA)
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Old November 11th, 2004, 10:00 PM   #90
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Copyright 2004 China Economic News Service
Taiwan Economic News
November 11, 2004

NEGOTIATIONS ON CROSS-STRAIT CHARTER FLIGHTS MAY FOLLOW TAIWAN-H.K FLIGHT TALKS MODE

Taipei, Nov. 11, 2004 (CENS)--Under the instruction of President Chen Shui-bian, the Cabinet-level Mainland Affairs Council (MAC) will son invite representativesof six leading industrial and business associations and air cargo carriers to conduct preparatory negotiations prior to cross-strait transportation talks with mainland China

At a national security meeting held yesterday, President Chen expressed his goodwill attitude toward direct transportation between Taiwan and the mainland.

He said both sides could follow the Taiwan-Hong Kong negotiation mode to settle passenger and freight charter flights. At the meeting, Chen also instructed relevant government agencies to promote economic, trade and cultural exchanges across the Taiwan Strait.

Some heads of industrial and business associations, including Earle J.S. Ho, chairman of the Chinese National Federation of Industries, and Hsu
Sheng-hsiung, chairman of the Taiwan Electrical and Electronic Manufacturers' Association, hailed President Chen's expression, saying it would benefit
both sides in the fields of economic, trade, cultural and personnel exchanges

China Airlines Ltd. and Eva Airways Corporation said they hope the charter flight negotiation can be smoothly carried out and it's not very important as to
which negotiation mode would be adopted by both sides. They noted they would be able to offer sufficient flight fleets as soon as the policy is finalized.
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Old November 12th, 2004, 09:09 AM   #91
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November 12, 2004 Friday
DIRECT AIR CONNECTIONS WITH CHINA BACK ON AGENDA IN TAIWAN

Asia Pulse - Mainland Affairs Council (MAC) Chairman Joseph Wu expounded on the formula used in signing the Taiwan-Hong Kong aviation agreement in June 2002 in preparation for negotiations on the opening of direct cross-Taiwan Strait charter cargo flights and Chinese New Year charter passenger flights.

Wu said the formula implies three basic principles -- shelving disputes without imposing any premises or prerequisites; resolving issues with mutual respect and pragmatism; being guided by the governments while enlisting private-sector assistance.

Wu's explanations came a day after President Chen Shui-bian directed relevant government agencies to actively promote the resumption of dialogue with Beijing on the basis of the bilateral meetings in Hong Kong in 1992.

At the beginning, Chen went on, the two sides can negotiate the opening of two-way, non-stop cross-strait charter cargo flights and Chinese New Year charter passenger flights in line with the formula set forth in the 2002 Taiwan-Hong Kong aviation pact negotiations.

Under the formula, the Taiwan government authorized a non-governmental airline association to negotiate the aviation pact with Hong Kong, with officials from the MAC and the Civil Aeronautics Administration joining the talks as advisers to the association.

Wu said the MAC and other government agencies will follow the above-mentioned principles in pushing for opening of two-way, non-stop cross-strait charter cargo flights and charter passenger flights for the upcoming Chinese New Year holiday, which will run from Feb. 6, 2005 through Feb. 13.

The nation's top mainland policy planner further said the MAC will organize a seminar on cross-strait charter flight issues Friday, with the participation of government officials and industry executives.

"The seminar will serve as a platform for the government to exchange views with relevant industry representatives on direct cross-strait charter flight issues, " Wu said, adding that MAC Vice Chairman Chiu Tai-san will brief the press on technical details after the seminar.

Two mainland Chinese officials -- Li Xiaoyun, director of the Cross-Strait Economic and Technological Exchange Center under mainland China's Taiwan Affairs Office, and Feng Chuozhe, president of Beijing's state-run Cross-Strait Travel Service, arrived in Taipei Wednesday for a private visit.

Reporters had speculated that Li and Feng are visiting Taiwan to discuss issues regarding the opening of direct cross-strait charter passenger flights during the upcoming Chinese New Year holiday, as well as the opening of Taiwan to mainland Chinese tourists.

However, MAC officials said they have no plan for a meeting with the two mainland officials.

"We have no knowledge whether the two were authorized by Beijing to negotiate with Taiwan on possible cross-strait charter flights during the forthcoming Chinese New Year holiday and no meeting with the two has been scheduled, " MAC Vice Chairman Chiu said.

With Beijing's consent, Taiwan carriers operated special charter flights between Shanghai and Taipei/Kaohsiung via Hong Kong/Macau during the 2003 Chinese New Year period. The services were not offered during the 2004 Chinese New Year holiday because Beijing insisted that mainland carriers be allowed to also provide the same flight services while declining to negotiate the necessary technical details with Taiwan.

The Taiwan government said that as the opening of two-way, non-stop cross-strait charter flight services involves the exercise of public authority, prior negotiations are necessary.

(CNA)
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Old November 12th, 2004, 10:43 PM   #92
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Non-stop cross-strait flights proposed; Taipei seeks charter runs with mainland for Lunar New Year
Jacky Hsu
13 November 2004
South China Morning Post

Taiwan yesterday unveiled a preliminary draft plan to launch reciprocal, non-stop charter flights between the island and the mainland.

Under the draft, the two sides would run charter passenger and cargo flights during the upcoming Lunar New Year holiday, to be followed by regular charter services if things went smoothly.

"As soon as the mainland side expresses its desire for such flights, we will appoint the Taipei Airlines Association to help in bilateral talks so that such a service can be launched as soon as possible," said Mainland Affairs Council vice-chairman Chiu Tai-san.

He said Taiwan was willing to adopt the 2002 Hong Kong model in making such flights possible.

In the 2002 talks between Taiwan and Hong Kong on the renewal of their air links, the two sides agreed to direct flights based on three principles - shelving political differences, respecting practical requirements and conducting private sector negotiations.

Mr Chiu said the council had invited relevant government departments and private business groups in Taiwan to discuss the issue.

He said national security should not be of concern if the two sides used the existing flight routes open for Hong Kong. He said authorities would not worry about a surprise attack from the mainland as there were adequate facilities for the island to detect and determine whether an aircraft was hostile.

Mr Chiu called on Beijing to temporarily set aside political differences to allow such flights. He said Taipei's offer demonstrated the island's goodwill to improve ties.

"I am confident that the two sides will finally be able to start such services," he said, adding that Beijing once proposed that the two sides discuss the issue based on the 2002 Hong Kong model.

Taiwan and the mainland launched their only charter flight service last year to transport mainland-based Taiwanese businessmen in Shanghai back to the island for the Lunar New Year holiday.

But Beijing refused to permit such a service this year on the grounds that such flights should be reciprocal, without a stop in either Hong Kong or Macau.
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Old January 3rd, 2005, 06:33 AM   #93
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China says mainland, Taiwan airlines could discuss new year charter flights
2 January 2005

BEIJING (AFX) - Airlines from mainland China and Taiwan could sort out arrangements for special charter flights to serve passsengers over the Chinese lunar New Year holiday, an official from the Taiwan Affairs Office was quoted as saying.

The official Xinhua news agency quoted an unidentified spokesman as saying that such talks could be held to reach a consensus on technical arrangements.

'We believe that the airlines of the two sides could discuss the technical and business arrangements for charter flights over the Chinese New Year,' the spokesman said.

While Taiwan and China have no direct flights the two sides have permitted special indirect charter flights to accommodate Taiwanese who work on the mainland but wish to return to the island for the lunar New Year holiday.

The two sides inaugurated such flights in 2003 but a souring of relations prevented a similar agremeent in 2004.

Xinhua quoted the spokesman as saying that discussions involving semi-official agencies set up by both sides could not proceed because of reasons that are 'known to all'.

The spokesman added that the issue of flights between Taiwan and China is an internal matter for Chinese on both sides of the Taiwan Strait, reiterating Beijing's position that such flights would not be international service.
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Old January 3rd, 2005, 11:10 AM   #94
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Jan 3, 2005
China open to talks of direct Taiwan air links

BEIJING - China said it was open to discussion with Taiwan about allowing direct flights between the two rivals during Chinese New Year - a possible concession by the mainland during the year's busiest travel season.

China 'will work hard to promote the launching of charter flights across the Taiwan Straits during the ... Lunar New Year, and welcomes Taiwan people to come for talks over the issue,' the Xinhua News Agency said, citing an unidentified spokesman for the Taiwan Affairs Office of the State Council.

Sunday's report also said he hoped that the charter flights 'can be operated by airlines on both sides of the Straits in direct routes,' an issue which has been a sticking point in previous discussions.

Direct Taiwan-China air links have been banned since the two sides split during civil war in 1949. While political relations are tense, trade between the two sides has boomed in recent years and Taiwanese tourists and investors flock to the mainland.

The issue is particularly significant in the days leading up to Chinese New Year, when many Taiwan residents want to travel to see relatives on the mainland, and vice versa. This year, the holiday falls on Feb 9.

While China has allowed holiday charter flights in previous years, travellers have to stop at a third point, usually Hong Kong, where they transfer to a foreign airline.

Last week, Mr Chiu Tai-san, vice-chairman of Taiwan's Mainland Affairs Council, said the matter could be resolved if only Taiwanese airlines are involved in the flights.

China has in the past refused such talks unless Taiwanese leaders agree that the island is part of China and that the two must eventually unify. But it has said charter flights could be negotiated by airline representatives from both sides without government involvement.

The Beijing spokesman did not directly address either position but said he hoped Taiwanese leaders would 'create conditions for the chartered planes to take off'. -- AP

Copyright © 2004 Singapore Press Holdings. All rights reserved.
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Old January 3rd, 2005, 03:37 PM   #95
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KMT Outlines 3 Principles for Taiwan-China Charter Flights

TAIPEI, Jan 2 Asia Pulse - The opposition Kuomintang reiterated its three principles Sunday for promoting the opening of direct charter flights across the Taiwan Strait during the upcoming Chinese New Year holiday for Taiwan business people working in mainland China.

KMT spokesman Chang Jung-kung claimed that the KMT will mainly play the role of communicator, not negotiator, in the proposed cross-strait charter flight services.

The KMT's three principles are that both mainland and Taiwan carriers should be allowed to operate cross-strait charter flights during the period, those flights should be non-stop and three mainland destinations - Shanghai, Beijing and Guangzhou - should be include in the package.

Chang said the KMT package can be carried out without prior cross-strait negotiations.

"With the consent of relevant government authorities, the proposed two-way, non-stop, cross-strait charter flights can kick-start," Chang claimed.

He urged the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) administration to accept the KMT-proposed formula to benefit a large number of Taiwan businesspeople working on the mainland, commonly known as "taishang," intending to return to spend the lunar new year holiday.

If the KMT-initiated charter flights package can be implemented, Chang claimed, it can also help defuse cross-strait tension.

Chang said representatives from the KMT legislative caucus and six local carriers will travel to the mainland to discuss with mainland Chinese air carriers to pave the way for the proposed holiday charter flights.

With Beijing's consent, six Taiwan carriers operated special charter flights between Shanghai and Taipei/Kaohsiung via Hong Kong/Macau during the 2003 Chinese New Year holiday. The services were not offered the following year because Beijing insisted that mainland carriers also be allowed to provide the same flight services but refused to negotiate the necessary technical details with Taiwan.

Huang Teh-fu, KMT legislative whip, said mainland Chinese carriers can commission private organizations to apply with Taiwan authorities for permission to operate the proposed cross-strait charter flights just like what mainland news organizations have been doing in the past few years in applying for approval to post reporters in Taiwan.

"If the DPP administration agrees to this formula, bilateral negotiations are not necessary for the opening of special cross-strait charter flights during the upcoming Chinese New Year holiday," Huang claimed.

Huang said he and his KMT colleagues will pay a visit to the Mainland Affairs Council (MAC) - Taiwan's top mainland policy planning agency - again on Monday to seek its support for the KMT package.

MAC Vice Chairman Liu Teh-hsun said Friday that the proposed cross-strait charter flights could be modeled after the 2003 formula.

Liu said that the MAC has repeatedly urged the mainland side to negotiate the holiday charter flight issue, but to no avail. With only a little more than one month before Chinese New Year Day, which falls on Feb. 9, Liu suggested using the 2003 model in which only Taiwan carriers operated the special charter flight service.

If "taishang" believe that more mainland cities should be included in the services, Liu siad the MAC is willing to consult with air carriers to expand the services to Guangzhou and Beijing.

Should mainland air carriers want to apply for operating similar flight services, Liu said, the two sides must consult to come to terms because such operations involve the exercise of public authority and complex technical details for safety reasons.

(CNA)
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Old January 4th, 2005, 10:14 PM   #96
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Beijing Agrees to Holiday Cross-Strait Charter Flights

TAIPEI, Jan 4 Asia Pulse - Mainland China has finally agreed to work toward the opening of direct charter flights across the Taiwan Strait during the upcoming Chinese Lunar New Year holiday for Taiwan business people working in mainland China.

Beijing's official Xinhua news agency's online edition quoted the spokesman of the Taiwan Affairs Office as saying late Sunday that mainland authorities will do their utmost to open the special cross-strait charter flight services under the formula of "joint participation, multiple destinations, direct flights and two-way passenger transport services."

For various reasons, the spokesman said, cross-strait negotiations could not resume at the moment. Nevertheless, the spokesman suggested that air carriers from both sides be authorized to negotiate technical details to pave the way for the special cross-strait flight services during the lunar new year holiday.

"We believe our suggestion is pragmatic and feasible," the spokesman said, adding that Taiwan's elected representatives and airline executives are welcome to travel to the mainland to discuss the proposed charter flight services.

With Beijing's consent, six Taiwan carriers operated special charter flights between Shanghai and Taipei/Kaohsiung via Hong Kong/Macau during the 2003 Chinese Lunar New Year holiday.

The services were not offered the following year because Beijing insisted that mainland carriers also be allowed to provide the same flight services but refused to negotiate the necessary technical details with Taiwan.

(CNA)
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Old January 7th, 2005, 05:37 AM   #97
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Chinese Airlines to Run New Year Charter Flights to Taiwan

TAIPEI, Jan 7 Asia Pulse - To be on par with their Taiwan counterparts, mainland Chinese carriers are in principle allowed to offer special lunar new year charter flight services for Taiwan businessmen wishing to return to Taiwan for the holiday period, a government spokesman said Thursday.

Chen Chi-mai, spokesman for the Executive Yuan, said that mainland-based aviation companies will be allowed to offer the flights as long as the two sides can reach a final agreement in this regard.

Chen added, however, that Taiwan has yet to receive any formal applications by mainland airlines seeking to offer the special flights between the two sides of the Taiwan Strait, nor has the government been informed of the situation by the Civil Aviation Administration of China.

Chen's remarks came after local media reported that Xiamen Airlines has gained approval from Hong Kong to operate Xiamen-Taipei and Xiamen-Kaohsiung charter flights for homebound and returning Taiwan businessmen and their dependents in the new year holiday season early next month.

According to the Cabinet spokesman, Taiwan and the mainland have forged much common ground on the model for "non stop, round trip" flights by carriers on both sides."

The Cabinet-level Mainland Affairs Council (MAC) has commissioned the Taipei Airlines Association to hold technical talks with the mainland side to clear the way for the service, he noted.

The special flights were launched for the first time in 2003 using only Taiwan carriers, but the service failed to proceed in 2004 due to the mainland's insistence on mainland carriers being allowed to also offer flights and its refusal to hold technical talks on the issue as a result of cross-strait tension.

There have been no direct trade, transport and postal links between the two sides of the Taiwan Strait since 1949, when the now-opposition Kuomintang lost a civil war to communist forces and fled to Taiwan.

To compensate for the absence of the links, the Kinmen and Matsu islands held by Taiwan initiated direct trade and transport services with the Xiamen and Mamei ports in mainland China's Fujian Province on a trial basis starting from Jan. 1, 2001 -- commonly known as the "three mini links."

(CNA)
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Old January 7th, 2005, 12:10 PM   #98
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Business Times - 07 Jan 2005

Taiwan may allow New Year flights from China

A successful deal will mark the 1st direct flight to Taipei since 1949

(TAIPEI) Taiwan said it may consider allowing a commercial airline from China to land on the island for the first time in more than half a century if an agreement on resuming Lunar New Year charter flights is reached.

'We are open to any possibility,' Chiu Tai-san, vice chairman of Taiwan's Mainland Affairs Council, said in Taipei.

He was responding to a Xinhua News Agency report in China that Xiamen Airlines Co wants to operate a direct charter flight to Taipei and Kaohsiung to carry Taiwanese businessmen and their families home for the holidays next month. The report cited Xiamen Air General Manager Wu Rongnan.

Xiamen is located directly across the Taiwan Strait from the island.

'If the two sides reach agreement, it will be the first time a mainland Chinese aircraft flies to Taiwan and the first direct, nonstop flight between the two sides,' Mr Chiu said. 'Whether this develops into regular service across the Strait is still too early to say. Let's complete the first step before elaborating.'

Mr Chiu declined to describe the progress of talks between aviation officials from China and Taiwan on resumption of the Lunar New Year flights. Xiamen Airlines will fly to Taipei and the southern Taiwan city of Kaohsiung, Xinhua said.

The largely symbolic, first charter flights between Taiwan and China in 2003 involved only Taiwan commercial carriers and required them to stop over in Hong Kong or Macau briefly, though passengers weren't required to change planes.

Talks on resuming the flights last year broke down amid a dispute about whether they should be called as domestic or international. Negotiations were also caught in rhetoric surrounding the March presidential election in Taiwan. Incumbent Chen Shui-bian, who won a second term, was vilified by the Chinese media for his pro-independence views.

Taiwan businessmen, who have more than US$100 billion invested in China, would benefit from regularly scheduled direct flights that would shave the five-hour trip through third countries to about 90 minutes and pare cargo costs.

There have been no regularly scheduled flights between Taiwan and China since 1949, when the Nationalists fled to the island after losing a civil war with the Communists on the mainland. - Bloomberg

Copyright © 2004 Singapore Press Holdings Ltd. All rights reserved.
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Old January 9th, 2005, 08:35 AM   #99
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Sunday January 9, 12:56 PM
Opposition Taiwanese lawmakers visit China to discuss charter flights

(AP) An opposition delegation departed for Beijing on Sunday to discuss allowing direct charter flights between China and Taiwan during next month's Chinese New Year holiday.

Direct Taiwan-China air links have been banned since the two sides split amid civil war in 1949. Political relations remain tense, but trade between the two sides has boomed in recent years and Taiwanese tourists and investors flock to the mainland.

John Chang, head of the delegation of opposition Nationalist Party lawmakers and airline representatives, said the group will meet with Chinese civil aeronautics officials on Monday to discuss direct charter flights during the New Year holiday that begins Feb. 8.

Chang said the Taiwan government has not officially authorized the opposition's visit, but would be pressured to recognize the results if an agreement is reached.

"They move passively and we have to give them pressure," Chang told reporters.

Taiwan complains that its airlines must fly through a third port, usually Hong Kong, before transferring to a foreign carrier to fly on to China.

Chiu Tai-san, a Taiwanese official in charge of relations with China, on Saturday expressed optimism that the flights were possible but avoided direct comment on the opposition talks.

"Both sides have displayed high degree of goodwill and sincerity regarding the New Year charter flights," said Chiu, vice chairman of the Mainland Affairs Council. "Things are moving toward a positive direction."

In 2003, six Taiwanese air carriers flew charter flights to Shanghai and picked up hundreds of Taiwanese returning home for the Chinese New Year. But Taiwan then barred Chinese air carriers to Taiwan, citing security concerns.

Taiwan recently said Chinese carriers could provide direct charter flights, but still wants the flights to pass through Hong Kong airspace without touching down.

Chiu said Taiwan would ensure that Chinese planes follow air routes that would not pose security threats to the island, which faces the mainland across the Taiwan Strait.

China has remained Taiwan's biggest security threat. The Taiwanese military has warned that Chinese civilian planes may conduct secret reconnaissance sorties or cover up fighter jets to help them evade radar detections.

Beijing has said it won't talk to Taiwan's government unless the island recognizes it is part of China and that both sides must eventually unify. Taipei refuses to accept those conditions.
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Old January 9th, 2005, 06:13 PM   #100
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Cross-strait flights deal said to be close to liftoff
Jacky Hsu in Taipei
9 January 2005
South China Morning Post

Taipei and Beijing appear close to reaching an agreement to allow Taiwanese businessmen on the mainland to take direct flights home for the Lunar New Year holiday.

Taiwanese media reported yesterday that Taipei Airlines Association chairman Michael Lo Ta-hsin had already reached agreement with Pu Zhaozhou , director of the Department of Taiwan, Hong Kong and Macau Affairs under the General Administration for Civil Aviation of China (CAAC).

The agreement was reached in Macau on Friday, according to the reports, but had not yet been accepted by the CAAC or the Mainland Affairs Council, Taiwan's top body on mainland policy.

A group of opposition Taiwanese legislators will leave for Beijing today to meet senior mainland officials to lobby for the flights.

The four-member delegation is led by Tseng Yung-chuan from the Kuomintang and John Chang Hsiao-yen, who helped broker cross-strait charter flights in 2003.

They will meet officials from the aviation administration and Chen Yunlin , the director of the Taiwan Affairs Office, tomorrow.

Taiwanese media yesterday speculated that Mr Chen may announce the charter flight agreement after his meeting with the opposition legislators.

Luo Chaogeng , general manager of China Eastern Airlines, told China News Service that his company was "fully prepared" for flights to Taiwan.

Mainland Affairs Council vice-chairman Chiu Tai-san was tight-lipped yesterday about whether the two sides had reached an initial agreement.

However, he said the matter was moving in a "positive direction".

Mr Chiu said if the special charter flights were successful over the Lunar New Year holiday, Taiwan could look at cargo charter flights in future. He said the charter passenger flights may also operate at other times of year.

The Mainland Affairs Council was considering additional routes, including having Hong Kong as the mid-point for flights between Taiwan and the mainland.

Under the current plan for flights over the Lunar New Year, aircraft are allowed into Hong Kong's flight zone without stopping. The two sides launched the services in early 2003, but they were stopped last year because of a chill in relations.
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