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May 29, 2017

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Taiwan calls for greater number of nonstop cross-strait flights

TAIPEI--Taiwan called on Monday for more direct flights connecting it and China and the relaxation of restrictions that prevent Chinese passengers from flying from the mainland to a third destination through Taiwan.

Sun Huang-hsiang, chairman of the Taipei Airlines Association, made the proposal at a meeting between the association and China's Cross-Straits Aviation Transport Exchange Council in Taipei.

Since regular nonstop cross-Taiwan Strait flights began in 2009, Taiwan has opened 10 airports for such flights and China 54, Sun said.

But the 616 direct flights per week between Taiwan and China are still far fewer than the number of nonstop flights between Hong Kong and the mainland or between South Korea and China, said Sun, also the chairman of Taiwan's largest carrier China Airlines.

The result is that 45 percent of travelers between the two sides must transit through a third territory, a problem that could get worse with cross-strait passenger volume growing at a rate of over 20 percent a year, he said.

Sun also urged Beijing to pave the way for Chinese travelers to transit through Taiwan when headed for other destinations and address a situation that gives Chinese airlines a clear advantage over Taiwanese carriers.

Beijing currently requires Chinese nationals to have a permit to fly to Taiwan, even if the travelers only plan to transit at an airport rather than enter the country.

Taiwanese travelers, on the other hand, do not face similar restrictions in transiting through a Chinese airport, and many are flying to Europe through China to take advantage of Chinese carriers' low fares, at the expense of local airlines.

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