Ma sets timetable for cross-strait air travel
The China Post news staff
March 1, 2008, 12:00 am TWN
TAIPEI, Taiwan -- Kuomintang presidential candidate Ma Ying-jeou yesterday set a timetable for regular cross-strait flights that he would implement if elected.
Ma said weekend charter flights would be introduced by July 1, with daily charter flights between China and Taiwan to be available by the end of this year.
The goal is to open regular cross-strait direct flights by June 2009, he said.
Ma unveiled his cross-strait flight agenda while talking with representatives from Taiwan's high-tech industry and venture capital sector.
He said he would start the negotiations with China over the direct flight issue as soon as taking office on May 20.
He added he would designate airports in Taoyuan, Taipei, Taichung, Kaohsiung, Hualien, Taitung, and Penghu as terminals for cross-strait flights.
He would also open seaports in Keelung, Taipei, Taichung, Kaohsiung, Hualien, Chiayi, and Tainan to direct shipping across the strait.
He would also lift all restrictions limiting the scope of the so-called "mini three links" between the Taiwan-controlled islands along the mainland coasts and coastal Chinese cities.
The opening of the direct cross-strait flights and transport links is meant to boost Taiwan's tourism. The arrival of more Chinese tourists would help create more opportunities in Taiwan and reduce the local unemployment.
Ma said he would also open Taiwan to Chinese tourists, with an initial daily quota of 3,000 people. The quota would be increased to 5,000 people the second year, 7,000 in the third, and 10,000 in the fourth.
According to Ma's plan, at the initial stages, Chinese tourists would total 1 million people each year, rising eventually to 3 million.
A total of 40,000 job openings would be created in the first year as a result of the arrival of Chinese tourists, and 100,000 more in the next three years.