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Qingming Festival Generates Cross-Straits Air Traffic
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People looking to celebrate the Qingming Festival began arriving in Shanghai from Taipei on Friday, with more flights scheduled in the next few days.

During the Qingming Festival or Tomb Sweeping Festival, which falls on April 5 or 6, Chinese people honor their ancestors or deceased relatives.

Last June, aviation organizations across the Taiwan Straits agreed to organize charter flights for festivals other than the Spring Festival.

Eleven airlines, five from the mainland and six from Taiwan, have scheduled charter flights from March 30 to April 8.

Shanghai is again the key hub, with tickets in short supply.

Besides the 14 flights between Shanghai and Taipei, other flights will carry mainland passengers in the next 10 days from Beijing, Guangzhou and Xiamen to Taipei and Kaohsiung and vice versa.

Bookings show that fewer Taiwanese on the mainland will take the flight to Taiwan during the Qingming Festival as many returned to the island during the seven-day family-reunion Spring Festival last month.

However, more passengers from Taiwan are flying to the mainland around the festival.

Experts on folklore are calling for flights scheduled for traditional festivals to protect the country's cultural heritage.

Cross-Straits charter flights will also be available during the Dragon Boat Festival, which falls on the fifth day of the fifth lunar month or June 19, and the Mid-Autumn Festival which falls on Sept. 25, both traditional Chinese festivals on the lunar calendar.

Mainland and Taiwanese airlines operated 72 charter flights during the 2006 Spring Festival, carrying 27,000 passengers, almost five times more than the previous year.

But regular charter flights across the Straits such as at weekends have yet to be realized.

The first non-stop charter flights across the Taiwan Straits were launched for Chinese Lunar New Year in 2005, the first direct air links across the Taiwan Straits in more than five decades
(Xinhua News Agency March 31, 2007)

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