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Taiwan-China flights have to double to meet demand: CAL
Central News Agency
2014-06-02 11:35 PM
Doha, June 2 (CNA) The cross-Taiwan Strait aviation market is expected to remain lucrative in the near future, and current flight services should at least double in order to meet the growing travel demand, the chairman of China Airlines (CAL), Taiwan's largest air carrier, said Monday. "Our principle in operating cross-strait routes is doing what we can to expand market presence, by adding new flight destinations and offering more services," said Sun Huang-hsiang on the sidelines of the annual meeting of International Air Transport Association (IATA) in Doha. An extra 158 flights per week across the Taiwan Strait have been offered since April, bringing the total scheduled nonstop flights to 828, but Sun said the supply has remained far short of market demand. CAL currently flies to 28 Chinese cities, and will include Xuzhou, Yantai, Hefei and Changchun from July to continue tapping the market, Sun said. In addition to the new destinations, CAL is planning to add flights on existing routes, including services between Taichung and Zhengzhou, Taoyuan and Lijiang, Taoyuan and Shenyang, and Taoyuan and Ningbo. Sun said CAL is also taking advantage of the "Greater China Connection" trademark it has formed with China Southern Airlines, China Eastern Airlines and Xiamen Airlines to cater to the rising number of passengers amid warming ties between Taiwan and China. All four carriers belong to SkyTeam, one of the world's three major airline alliances, and Sun said that partnership could help cross-strait carriers provide more flexible services such as code-sharing, under which they can reschedule return flights operated by one of the four companies. According to government statistics, more than 2.87 million Chinese nationals traveled to Taiwan, while around 5.16 million Taiwanese visited China in 2013. Sun also urged the two sides to implement bilateral cross-strait transits as soon as possible to further fuel up Taiwan-China aviation market. At present, Taiwanese travelers can make transit stops in China en route to other countries, but China does not allow its nationals to do the same through Taiwan, which has put Taiwanese airlines at a significant disadvantage relative to their regional rivals. China enforces its ban by not granting passports to travelers if a transit stop through Taiwan is part of their travel plans. As a result, they travel through other cities in China or other Asian countries, including Japan and South Korea. Beijing fears that its nationals showing their passports in Taiwan during transit stops or layovers will signal that it sees Taiwan as a sovereign country. (By Lee Hsin-Yin)
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