Taipei Mayor Supports Call for Direct Flights
Taipei Mayor Ma Ying-jeou Thursday gave his support to the plan to eventually open direct flight services from the city's airport to the mainland and Hong Kong.

Mr. Ma, who addressed a gathering of overseas Chinese, urged leaders on both sides of the Taiwan Strait to set aside sensitive political issues so that direct flights, cut off since 1949, could resume.

Mr. Ma proposed that the flight be better called 'special' flights so that they can be get started.

Mr. Ma's remarks were made a day after the municipal Government's Department of Transport issued a report outlining the potential benefits of opening direct flights to the mainland and Hong Kong from the Sungshan airport near central Taipei.

Taipei's report said much of the traffic at Sungshan, which operates at 103 percent of capacity due to high demand, would be relieved after a new high-speed railway opened in 2005. Taipei hoped that by then the ban on cross-Straits transport would be lifted. This would allow the city to open flights to the mainland, making Taipei an attractive alternative to Hong Kong.

Due to the airport's central location, travellers could get to Shanghai in a mere 80 minutes.

(People's Daily 08/04/2001)