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Two-way cross-Straits direct flights urged
( 2003-09-19 09:16) (China Daily HK Edition)

Direct flights between the Chinese mainland and Taiwan should be based on the principle of mutual benefit to both sides, an Air China spokesman said yesterday.

The Taiwan authorities now only allow Taiwan's airlines to operate indirect flights to the mainland via Hong Kong or Macao, which is wasting precious time and money while neglecting the rights of mainland airline operators, the spokesman said.

Taiwan authorities announced last Wednesday that Taiwan airlines would be allowed to operate indirect cargo flights to and from the mainland starting later this month at the request of Taiwan business circles.

However, the move represents nothing new in policy from previous trials conducted by chartered, indirect passenger flights by Taiwan airlines operated in February during the Spring Festival, Xinhua quoted the airlines spokesman as saying.

"A more practical move should be to quicken the process of cross-Straits, two-way direct links," he said.

Wang Zaixi, deputy director of the Taiwan Affairs Office under the State Council, also called for cross-Straits direct links including direct post, trade and transportation, the overseas edition of the People's Daily reported yesterday.

A direct flight between Fuzhou and Taipei only takes 40-plus minutes while an indirect one via Hong Kong requires a passenger to spend four hours, Wang said at the 12th Cross-Strait Forum in Guilin late August.

"Billions of US dollars annually are wasted due to the indirect flights," Wang said.

Taiwan authorities' "three-step" direct flight plan is a stopgap measure and lacks sincerity because surveys show that more than two-thirds of Taiwan's people support direct flights, Wang said.

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