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Tickets Available for Mainland-Taiwan Charter Flights
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Two Shanghai-based airlines announced on Monday that they would begin selling tickets for the first chartered flights between Taiwan and the Chinese mainland during the Mid-Autumn Festival, a traditional Chinese holiday for family reunion, on Wednesday.

China Eastern Airlines and Shanghai Airlines Co., Ltd will operate return flights between Shanghai and Taiwan on Sept. 30 and Oct. 7, while Taiwan airlines will operate the other eight flights.

Officials with the two Shanghai-based airlines said that an economy class return ticket will cost 4,700 yuan (US$587.5) and a business class return ticket will cost 6,900 yuan (US$862.5).

The tickets are expected to sell well as people travel back to Taiwan from the mainland to spend the Mid-Autumn Festival on Oct. 6 with their families.

Aviation organizations of the Chinese mainland and Taiwan agreed in June to provide chartered flights for more traditional festivals in addition to the Spring Festival.

Chartered flights will be arranged during Qingming - the tomb-sweeping festival -, the Dragon Boat Festival and the Mid-Autumn Festival, as well as the Spring Festival, according to the agreement.

The idea of Spring Festival chartered flights was raised by Taiwan businessmen in 2002 as there had not been a direct air link across the Taiwan Straits for more than five decades.

After negotiations, 16 chartered flights were arranged during the Spring Festival in 2003. But the flights had to go via Hong Kong or Macao en route.

The Mid-Autumn Festival celebrates the harvest moon and for centuries has been a time for family reunion in China.

(Xinhua News Agency September 5, 2006)

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