Extra cross-strait flights may be added for Lunar New Year holiday

2018/01/24 20:14:07 fontsize-small fontsize-default fontsize-big
Kuan An-lu (管安露)

Kuan An-lu (管安露)

Taipei, Jan. 24 (CNA) The government has coordinated with domestic airlines to add more flights across the Taiwan Strait during the Lunar New Year holiday period, despite withholding approval for China-based airlines to operate extra flights during the holiday.

The withholding was in response to Beijing's unilateral activation of four controversial aviation routes, Taiwan's semi- official Straits Exchange Foundation (SEF) said Wednesday.

The Civil Aeronautics Administration (CAA) announced Jan. 18 that it would hold off on approval of applications for 176 additional cross-strait flights by China Eastern Airlines Corp. and XiamenAir during the Feb. 15-20 holiday period, in response to China launching the M503 northbound route and the W121, W122 and W123 east-west extension routes without consulting Taiwan.

The move is expected to affect 30,000 China-based Taiwanese businessmen planning to return home for the holiday.

The government has mapped out response measures, including encouraging domestic airlines to file applications to operate additional cross-strait flights, said SEF spokesman Kuan An-lu (管安露).

Asked whether the applications will be rejected by China, Kuan said the Chinese government's reaction is still unknown.

According to a cross-strait air transport agreement, applications for additional flights must be approved at least seven days before they are allowed to take off. Currently, the earliest additional flights have been scheduled for Feb. 6, meaning that the applications for these flights have to be approved by Jan. 29.

There are currently 80 flights between Taiwan and Hong Kong and Macau, and the CAA will talk with domestic airlines about adding more cross-strait flights. Meanwhile, the government will coordinate with relevant agencies on planning more direct shipping services from Taiwan's outlying Kinmen and Matsu islands to Xiamen and Fuzhou in China's Fujian Province.

Meanwhile, Cabinet spokesman Hsu Kuo-yung (徐國勇) said that Chinese airlines have applied to operate 313 cross-strait flights during the Lunar New Year holiday period, only one fewer than last year, which will be enough to transport China-based Taiwanese people home for the holiday.

The CAA has estimated that over 20 flights have used the M503 northbound route and the W121, W122, and W123 east-west extension routes daily since their Jan. 4 opening.

(By Chen Chia-lun, Huang Ya-chuan and Evelyn Kao)

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