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Local airlines hope ban on Chinese layovers will end

TAIPEI -- Local airlines and travel industry groups are holding out hope that China's effective ban on its citizens changing planes in Taiwan will be lifted soon, they said Saturday, ahead of a high-profile international forum in China next week.

China Airlines, Taiwan's largest carrier, called it a matter of reciprocity, noting that Taiwanese travelers can transit to locations such as Europe via Chinese airports, but Chinese passengers are still not allowed to head to a third destination via Taiwan.

The carrier also proposed a checking system modeled on the one in Hong Kong, which would allow Chinese citizens to transfer without a permit provided they bring their passports and any necessary visas for their destinations.

Taiwan's second largest airline, EVA Air, also said that allowing layovers for Chinese travelers should be a priority as it could play a key role in the Aerotropolis development project centered around Taoyuan International Airport, Taiwan's main gateway.

The Travel Agent Association of the Republic of China also expressed optimism that layovers would benefit airlines and tourism businesses.

The issue is being highlighted ahead of the annual Boao Forum for Asia in China's Hainan Province, which is expected to be attended by Chinese Premier Li Keqiang among other leaders from China and the region.

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