China, Taiwan agree to start regular flights

June 13th, 2008 - 1:32 pm ICT by IANS  

Beijing, June 13 (Xinhua) China and Taiwan Friday signed an agreement to start regular weekend charter flights across the Taiwan Strait from July 4 after the first talks between the two sides in nearly a decade. Chen Yunlin, chairman of the Beijing-based Association for Relations Across the Taiwan Strait (ARATS), and chairman of Taiwan’s Straits Exchange Foundation (SEF) Chiang Pin-kun, who is leading the island to the talks, signed the agreement.

The flight service, scheduled to start July 4, will include 36 return flights for every weekend and the number of flights will increase as per the demand, the agreement said.

The flights would be divided evenly between China and Taiwan airlines, it said.

The mainland will first open Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou, Xiamen and Nanjing to the flights, and will gradually add Chengdu, Chongqing, Hangzhou, Dalian, Guilin and Shenzhen, and possibly more if needed.

Taiwan will have eight terminals such as Taipei, Taoyuan, Kaohsiung, Taichung, Penghu, Hualien, Kinmen and Taitung.

According to the deal, the flights from Taiwan to Shanghai will be restricted to a maximum of nine every weekend and those from the mainland to Taichung to six.

All passengers with legal passes to travel across the Strait can take the flights, the document said.

During the talks, both sides also agreed to start discussing direct flights as soon as possible, avoiding the need to continue flying via Hong Kong.

Negotiations on chartered freight flights would be held within three months after the weekend services begin, the agreement said.

The two sides would simplify immigration and customs procedures for passengers and cargo and continue to operate charter flights over traditional Chinese festivals.

The mainland-based Cross-Strait Aviation Transport Exchange Council and the Taipei Airlines Association (TAA) were entrusted to discuss and implement details of the agreement, which will take effect from June 20.

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