Houston Community News >> Taiwan Launches Charter Flights with China

6/14/2006 Houston -- China and Taiwan have agreed a deal to allow regular non-stop passenger flights between their cities during holiday periods, Taiwan has said. They also agreed to a case-by-case deal for air cargo, officials said.

Direct air links between the two rivals were stopped in 1949 when nationalist forces fled from the mainland to Taiwan after losing China's civil war. Taipei and Beijing have run limited non-stop charter flights since 1995 during the Lunar New Year.

Joseph Wu, chair of Taiwan's Mainland Affairs Council, said the agreement meant prospective travelers would be able to fly on four annual holidays. As well as the new year, the flights will operate for the Tomb Sweeping festival, the Dragon Boat Festival and the Mid-Autumn Festival.

Flights from Taipei and Kaohsiung in Taiwan will service Shanghai, Beijing, Guangzhou and Xiamen in China. Services that have run in the past have proved extremely popular with those wanting to visit family on the mainland. Previously, Taiwanese were forced to travel via Hong Kong or Macau to reach China, increasing journey times. Mr. Wu said he hoped an agreement on allowing Chinese tourists to visit Taiwan would be reached later in the year.

The two sides reached a "tentative consensus" on allowing some cargo flights, but did not reveal details. (BBC News)