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Host of benefits from more air links
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Sixteen airlines from the Chinese mainland and Taiwan will launch direct regular flights between the two sides today, and travelers will benefit from more flexible and convenient flight choices and probably lower travel costs too.

With the launch of the direct regular flights, weekly air services between the mainland and Taiwan will be increased to 270 flights.

The increase in flights has also seen a rise in the number of mainland cities linked to Taiwan. Some of the 27 cities offering direct cross-strait flights include Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou, Xiaman, Nanjing, Hangzhou, Shenzhen, Chengdu, Chongqing, Dalian and Fuzhou.

With the additional transport capacity the regular flights provide, many of the airports such as Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou and Xiamen will now have flights to the island daily. Shanghai, for example, will see a rise in cross-strait flights to more than 56.

The increased flights are a further step to boost transport links across the Taiwan Strait. The air connections are due to recent agreements between the mainland-based Association for Relations Across the Taiwan Strait and the Taiwan-based Strait Exchange Foundation.

Industry observers are positive that the cost of cross-strait flights will be cheaper because of increased competition among the airlines and that should benefit travelers.

Travelers can look forward to the average fare for a return trip to drop to about 2,000 yuan (US$292), following a price cut of nearly 30 percent, with the launch of the increased flights, some insiders estimate.

(Shanghai Daily August 31, 2009)

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