Cross-Strait flights launched for festival

Updated: 2007-06-17 09:15

GUANGZHOU -- A plane of China Southern Airlines left Guangzhou Saturday morning for Taipei to undertake the charter flight program for the Duanwu Festival.

An Airbus-319, carrying 44 passengers, took off from Guangzhou at 10:34 a.m. Saturday. Another flight is scheduled to take off on June 21.

Passengers aboard the flight include people returning home for family reunions, businessmen and tourists.

The plane flies via Hong Kong before it enters Taiwan air space. Zongzi, the festival food for Duanwu, were offered to passengers.

Five mainland airlines and six Taiwan airlines will make 21 round-trip flights from June 15 to June 22, according to the Civil Aviation Administration of China.

The cities involved are Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou and Xiamen on the mainland, and Taipei and Kaohsiung in Taiwan.

The first non-stop charter flights across the Taiwan Strait were launched during the Chinese Spring Festival period in 2005. Before that there had not been direct air links across the Taiwan Strait for more than five decades.

In June 2006, the mainland and Taiwan agreed to open charter flights for other traditional festivals, including Qingming, Duanwu, and the Mid-Autumn Festival.

Duanwu, also known as the Dragon Boat Festival, falls on the fifth day of the fifth month of the Chinese lunar calendar, or June 19 this year. It is for commemorating a patriotic Chinese poet over 2,000 years ago.

During the festival, boat races are held and people eat Zongzi. Wrapped up with bamboo leaves and with glutinous rice inside, Zongzi has various fillings ranging from meaty to confectionary.

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