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Cross-strait aviation talks to take place soon

2009. 2 November

( Aviation authorities from the two sides of the Taiwan Strait are trying to arrange for a first round of meetings sometime before the end of the year, Lee Long-wen, director-general of the Civil Aeronautics Administration under the Ministry of Transportation and Communications, said Nov. 1.

During the meetings, the CAA will try to win favorable terms for Taiwanese airlines, Lee noted, adding that the CAA will soon meet with representatives from local airlines in order to better understand what their main needs and concerns are.

Sources indicated that when the two sides meet, Taiwan will try to win agreements from the mainland in three main areas.

First, Taiwan hopes that mainland aviation authorities will agree to direct Chinese air passengers traveling to and from other destinations to stop en route at Taoyuan International Airport in Taiwan.

Taiwan is seeking to become an international transport hub and if large numbers of travelers from the mainland transited in the island it would be a step in the right direction, sources said.

Second, Taiwan hopes that regular direct flights between Taipei Songshan Airport and Shanghai Hongqiao International Airport can be initiated October 2010, after the World Expo in Shanghai comes to an end.

If such an arrangement could be arranged, it would be a huge plus for local airlines, sources said.

Third, Taiwan hopes the mainland will agree to allow both passenger planes carrying cargo and cargo planes themselves to transit in Taiwan.

Aviation experts said that transferred shipments of goods on airlines are routinely allowed under international norms; but in order to protect its own market, the mainland has steadfastly insisted that such a practice cannot be allowed.

Lee said according to the third addendum to the Cross-strait Air Transport Agreement, aviation authorities from the two sides are supposed to meet regularly every three months, starting from the time when direct cross-strait flights were first initiated at the end of August.

Air transport is not a topic scheduled for the fourth round of cross-strait talks, which are due to take place in Taichung in December. But aviation officials from the two sides are making arrangements to meet separately, Lee explained. (LC-HZW)