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Cross-Strait Chartered Cargo Flights to Start Maiden Voyage Today

The first chartered cargo flights between the Chinese mainland and Taiwan are due to begin tonight.


A Boeing 747-400 cargo plane, operated by the Taiwan-based "China Airlines", will take off from the Taoyuan Airport in Taipei at 10:00 p.m. today and arrive at the Pudong International Airport in Shanghai at 1:00 a.m. on Thursday.


The mainland-based Cross-Strait Aviation Transport Exchange Council and the Taipei Airlines Association agreed on a framework for chartered flights for festivals and special cases on June 14.


The five chartered cargo flights will carry equipment, parts and components to be used in factories on the mainland that owned by Taiwan business people.


Chartered flights will run during Qingming, or the tomb-sweeping festival, the Dragon Boat Festival and the Mid-Autumn Festival, in addition to the Chinese lunar new year season, according to the agreement.


The two sides also agree to open chartered flights for emergency medical rescue, first aid for the disabled and chartered cargo flights.


Air cargo from Taiwan is usually first transported to Hong Kong and carried from that special administrative region by the Shanghai-based China Eastern Airlines or by the HK-based Dragon Air to Shanghai.


It is believed that operation of chartered cargo flights will help slash cargo transport cost and promote trade and economic cooperation between the two sides across the Taiwan Straits.


Some analysts said the start of chartered flights for festivals and cargo service could be a big step toward Taiwan lifting a five-decade ban on regular air links across the Straits.


Cross-strait chartered flights with stopovers in Hong Kong or Macao began in the Spring Festival in 2003.


(Xinhua News Agency July 19, 2006)


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