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Taiwan, Japan sign pact

The total number of weekly flights between Taiwan and Japan's Kansai and central region will be increased sharply to 45 starting in October next year from the current 28, including new direct flights between Taipei's Songshan Airport and Haneda Airport in Tokyo.

According to the new aviation agreement between the two nations signed in Taipei yesterday, two air carriers from each side can provide a total of eight chartered flights for the Taipei-Tokyo route per day.

The flight service will save passengers about two hours on each trip because Songshan and Haneda are located closer to the centers of the two capital cities, compared with present runs between Taiwan's Taoyuan International Airport and Narita Airport in Tokyo.

Flights between Taipei and Okinawa will also be increased.

Peng Run-tsu, chairman of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs' Association of East Asian Relations, and Reijiro Hattori, chairman of Japan's Interchange Association in Taipei, inked the pact at a ceremony in Taipei.

“It is foreseeable that the agreement will further increase the economic benefits and convenience of people-to-people exchanges between the two sides,” Peng said.

“We will continue to negotiate and seek resolutions to all kinds of aviation issues between Taiwan and Japan and to create a win-win situation for mutual benefit,” he said.

Hattori, the Japanese envoy to Taiwan, expressed the same optimistic views.

China Airlines and EVA Airways based in Taipei as well as Japan Airlines and All Nippon Airways will operate the Songshan-Haneda flights.

The service will begin when the carriers conclude the necessary preparations and after Haneda Airport's new runway is ready. The renovation of facilities at Songshan Airport is also expected to be completed by next October.

Peng also noted that the treaty will allow carriers to have more flexibility when it comes to scheduling flights from each other's airports to third countries -- known as the Fifth Freedom -- by increasing cargo and passenger capacities, the number of flights and the choice of beyond points.

The increase in flights resulted from mounting demand because of the growing economic and tourism ties between Taiwan and Japan, Peng said.

Bilateral trade reached US$60.4 billion in 2008, and 2.48 million tourists traveled between Taiwan and Japan last year.

Officials at the Civil Aeronautics Administration (CAA) said negotiations with China and South Korea are also proceeding to establish direct flights between Songshan and counterpart airports in Shanghai and Seoul to provide better services for passengers.

They expect to complete talks and arrangement before next October so that more convenient flight services directly from Taipei to the major international cities in the East Asian region can be launched simultaneously late next year.

The new flight services from Songshan are part of President Ma Ying-jeou's campaign platform pronounced in 2008, they added.

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 Taiwan, Japan sign pact 
Chairman Peng Run-tsu of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs' Association of East Asian Relations, right, and Reijiro Hattori, chairman of Japan's Interchange Association in Taipei, shake hands after signing a new air treaty at a ceremony in Taipei. Both expressed yesterday a substantial increase in interchanges between the two sides. (CNA)

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