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Eva Air eyes cooperation with China peers for direct flights

TAIPEI, Taiwan -- Eva Airways, Taiwan’s second-largest carrier, plans to increase direct flights to China and seek to work with Chinese airlines as cross-strait business ties improve.

Taiwan and China plan to launch regular flights between the long-time rivals for the first time since 1949. Direct weekend flights will start July 4. “We will definitely want to partner other airlines, and everyone agrees there are not enough direct flights to China,” said Eva spokesman Nieh Kuo-wei. Eva said it will initially have 7 direct flights to China each week, from both Taoyuan International Airport and Taipei’s Songshan domestic airport, but will not trim the number of flights to Hong Kong.

For decades, flights between Taiwan and China had to make lengthy stop-overs in Hong Kong.

On Friday, Eva signed an agreement with China Eastern Airlines to collaborate on ticket issues and luggage handling. China Eastern also wants to fly direct to Taiwan.

“We may lose money in the beginning for some direct flights, but we’re not looking at this development just from a business standpoint,” said Cao Jianxiong, China Eastern’s general manager.

“We hope it will boost Taiwan and China relations and improve economic ties.”

Other mainland airlines assigned by regulators to fly direct to Taiwan include China Southern Airlines, Air China, Hainan Airlines and Xiamen Airlines.

China has claimed sovereignty over self-ruled and democratic Taiwan since the Chinese civil war and has pledged to bring the island under its control, by force if necessary.

But new Taiwan President Ma Ying-jeou has pledged to boost the economy by improving trade with China.

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