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Mainland to Expand Cross-straits Charter Flight Services
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The Chinese mainland is considering opening six more airports to non-stop charter flights across the Taiwan Straits to cope with rising passenger traffic, a senior civil aviation official has said.


Currently, the mainland operates flights from Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou and Xiamen to Taipei and Kaohsiung in Taiwan.


The new airports would be Chengdu, Hangzhou, Nanjing, Shenzhen, Dalian and Guilin.


Gao Hongfeng, deputy director of the General Administration of Civil Aviation of China (CAAC), said that airports in another seven cities -- Tianjin, Fuzhou, Chongqing, Zhuhai, Shenyang, Qingdao and Guiyang -- would be designated as alternate airports for emergency landings.


The deputy director told Shanghai-based China Business News that Taiwan airlines operating cross-straits charter flights are authorized to establish an organization or a representative office in cities where cross-straits charter flight services are available.


He said the CAAC would help if Taiwanese airplanes -- for weather or aircraft reasons -- needed to make an emergency landing at mainland airports open to charter flight services.


The CAAC said that Taiwan companies are encouraged to establish joint ventures on the mainland to run airlines, build airports or produce articles used on aircraft.


They were also encouraged to expand cooperation with mainland counterparts in aircraft maintenance, cargo storage, market development, code sharing and purchase of flight supplies.


Aviation organizations on the Chinese mainland and Taiwan launched first non-stop charter flights across the Taiwan Straits for the Chinese Lunar New Year in 2005, the first direct cross-straits air flights in more than five decades.


They agreed to expand the services to other traditional Chinese festivals last year. But regular charter flights across the Straits have still not been realized.


During this year's Qingming Festival or Tomb Sweeping Festival which fell on April 5, mainland and Taiwanese airlines operated 42 charter flights, carrying 7,000 passengers in total.


(Xinhua News Agency May 3, 2007)


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