China Eastern Airlines (CEA) will launch its first direct chartered flight from Shanghai to Taiwan on Monday.
Top mainland and Taiwan negotiators signed historic agreements early last month in Taipei to establish fullfledged links in transport, postal services and trade across the Straits.
Previously, six mainland carriers and five Taiwan carriers had been operating direct charter flights on the four traditional Chinese holidays and at weekends. Since July this year, there have been four flights a week. The aircraft, however, have had to fly through Hong Kong's airspace.
Following the new agreement, flights will bypass Hong Kong, shortening travel time, and the frequency has been increased from four times a week to daily.
CEA said it had received approval from the authorities to add three airports Xi'an, Kunming and Wuhan to its flight plans. The inaugural flights to Xi'an and Kunming will be take place on Dec 27, and to Wuhan on Dec 25.
The airline said that from Monday, flights from Shanghai to Taiwan will increase from three times a week to daily, and direct flights from Nanjing will also be increased from one to two a week.
The new Shanghai-Nanjing route will save 70 to 80 minutes from the previous indirect route, it said.
China Cargo FN, an airline managed by CEA, will also launch direct flights from next month. There will be 10 flights a week.
The agreement allows for 60 cargo flights per month across the Straits.
The United Daily News reported earlier that China Airlines, Taiwan's leading carrier, has begun taking bookings for flights operating between Monday and the end of the year. The airline was quoted as saying that its route from Taipei to Shanghai will take 105 minutes, instead of 82 minutes as earlier anticipated.
(China Daily December 10, 2008)