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New cross-strait flights may begin April: CAA

TAIPEI, Taiwan -- An extra 158 flights per week across the Taiwan Strait could start by April, as an aviation agreement between Taiwan and China has taken effect, the Civil Aeronautics Administration (CAA) said yesterday.

Under the pact, Taiwanese carriers can offer an additional 79 flights to the current network — 72 on existing Taiwan-China routes, with the other seven openings for charter flights already operating for two months or longer to start services on a regular basis.

All six local carriers have submitted plans for offering extra flights to 22 existing Chinese destinations where there are no restrictions on the total number of cross-strait flights.

“Submissions so far show that the most popular destinations are Nanning and Guilin cities in southern China,” said Ryan Wang, deputy director of the CAA's Planning Division.

Other destinations open for application include Zhangjiajie, Zhengzhou and Lijiang cities, also in southern China.

Transportation officials from Taiwan and China agreed last November to increase the number of regularly scheduled nonstop flights across the strait to 828 from 670 per week.

However, no extra flights are allowed to land in first tier Chinese cities such as Shanghai, Beijing, Nanjing, Shenzhen and Guangzhou, which are among the most profitable destinations for carriers.

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