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Taiwan, China agree to unlimited no. of flights for lunar New Year

TAIPEI, Taiwan -- Taiwan and China have reached an agreement to allow an unlimited number of additional flights between the two sides to accommodate Lunar New Year travel next year.

In the period, Jan. 27 to Feb. 24, airlines operating across the Taiwan Strait can offer as many flights as they like to any destination in China except the busy airports in Beijing, Putong Shanghai, Guangzhou, Shenzen, Hungzhou and Nanjing, civil aviation organizations on both sides agreed Friday.

In those six cities, the number of extra flights will be restricted to 156 in total for each side.

Furthermore, the extra flights will not operate between Shanghai Hongqiao airport and Taipei Songshan airport, according to the agreement reached by Taipei Airlines Association and China's Cross-Straits Aviation Transport Exchange Council in a meeting Dec. 13-14.

Airlines that fly to China from Songshan airport, however, can use Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport instead for charter flights, Taiwan's Civil Aeronautics Administration (CIA) said.

With the agreement set to take effect Jan. 10, ticketing services are likely to begin the next day, the CIA said. The Lunar New Year holiday period is Feb. 9-17.

In the biannual meeting, the two sides also agreed to increase the number of regular direct cross-strait flights from 558 to 616 per week.

China will open eight more airports to regular direct cross-strait flights, while Taiwan will include Chiayi airport in the south of the country, the two sides agreed.

The eight additional China airports are Hohhot in the Inner Mongolian Autonomous Region, Yinchuan in Ningxia, Zhangjiajie in Hunan, Urumchi in Xinjiang, Xining in Qinghai, Hailar in Qinghai, Lijiang in Yunnan, and Weihai in Sandong.

This will bring to 49 the number of China airports that accommodate direct cross-strait flights, most of which are in the capital cities of its provinces. In Taiwan, the total number will be 10.

The cross-strait service will begin at the newly added airports as soon as the relevant authorities on both sides have completed the necessary procedures, the CIA said.

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