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Cross-strait Charter Flight for Mid-Autumn Festival Takes off

The first Mid-Autumn Festival charter flight across the Taiwan Strait took off from Taipei Friday morning for Shanghai.


The flight marks the extension of the cross-strait charter flight service, which used to be restricted to the Spring Festival, or traditional Chinese New Year.


The flight, BR 1712 from Taiwan-based Eva Airways, had 308 passengers on board, Liu Yingjun, a public relations officer with the company told Xinhua.


Liu said the charter flight will return to Taipei on Friday afternoon. Seats on the flight were sold out.


The officer said Eva Airways has prepared mooncakes and other traditional Mid Autumn Festival refreshments for passengers.


Eva Airways has scheduled another round-trip charter flight between Taipei and Shanghai on Oct. 8, Liu said.


Following Eva Airways' lead, 11 other airlines from the Chinese mainland and Taiwan will organize charter flights for the Mid-Autumn Festival.


Mid-Autumn Festival is an important holiday for Chinese people and a time for family reunions.


Six airlines from each side will operate 24 round-trip flights between Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou, Xiamen and Taipei from September 29 to October 8, during China's week-long National Day vacation.


Following a decision made by non-governmental aviation industry associations across the strait in June, similar charter flights have been arranged for other traditional holidays including the Ching Ming Festival (or Tomb Sweeping Day) and the Dragon Boat Festival.


There were only 1,300 passengers on the first charter flights for the 2003 Spring Festival. But numbers then boomed. In 2005 there were 5,877 passengers on Spring Festival charter flights and in 2006 the number soared to 27,276.


(Xinhua News Agency September 29, 2006)


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