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Green Light for First Mid-Autumn Festival Flights to Taiwan
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The first charter flights across the Taiwan Straits for the Mid-Autumn Festival will take off later this month, sources with Air China in Beijing said on Monday.


Previously, charter flights were only available during the Spring Festival. Services have now been expanded to other traditional festival holidays including the Qingming (or Tomb Sweeping Day), Dragon Boat and Mid-Autumn festivals.


Six airlines from the mainland and Taiwan will operate 24 round-trip flights between Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou, Xiamen and Taipei from September 29 to October 8, which coincides with China's week-long National Day holidays.


Most airlines have prepared mooncakes, a traditional festival delicacy, for passengers to celebrate the occasion onboard.


An official with Hainan Airlines said they have sold "two thirds of the tickets." Eastern Airlines had half of its business class tickets and 70 percent of economy class tickets ordered on the first day of sales.


Figures provided by the Taiwan Affairs Office under the State Council show that more than 4.3 million residents from Taiwan visited the mainland between January and November last year.


The first charter flights took off during the Spring Festival in 2003 with less than 1,300 passengers. In 2005 and 2006, passenger numbers reached 5,877 and 27,276 respectively.


(Xinhua News Agency September 26, 2006)

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