Straits charter plan faces failure
( 2003-12-20 00:53) (China Daily)
Taipei's strong political ideology has all but grounded a plan to introduce charter flights across the Taiwan Straits in this coming Spring Festival, a senior civil aviation administrator says.
To prepare for the failure to put the programme in place, the General Administration of Civil Aviation of China (CAAC) has ordered several measures, such as arranging extra flights, to make it convenient for Taiwan compatriots to fly home.
"We just want to talk about economic affairs and commercial operation but the Taiwan authorities are still bent on playing with politics,'' said Pu Zhaozhou, director of the CAAC's Office of Taiwan, Hong Kong and Macao Affairs.
"Anybody with common sense can see through their attempt to obstruct the charter flight plan regardless of the immediate interests of the Taiwanese public and business community.''
Pu was referring to the island's refusal to let industrial associations or airlines from across the Straits work out details for a charter flight scheme in next year's Chinese Lunar New Year, which falls in January.
In an exclusive interview with China Daily, Pu suggested charter flight arrangements would have to be dropped if there is no real progress in the coming week.
For the first time in 54 years, six Taiwanese airlines operated 16 charter flights to and from the mainland during this year's Spring Festival period, but they had to transit through Hong Kong or Macao.
The landmark programme, however, completely excluded mainland airlines from running these flights.
For its part, Beijing has held out for direct charter flights without stopovers in the coming Chinese Lunar New Year and demanded mainland airlines also be allowed to participate in the charters.
Taipei, however, has insisted that the charter flights be indirect while continuing to reject the participation of mainland carriers.
Taipei went on to propose semi-official and formal talks, rather than the private talks Beijing wanted, to pave the way for the participation of mainland airlines.
Pu said the ideology-obsessed Taiwan authorities have applied discriminatory double standards in handling the problem.
"Since Taiwanese airlines could be permitted to operate cross-Straits charter flights through the model of private negotiation in last Lunar New Year, why can't their mainland counterparts do so next year?'' he asked.
As another major sign for the potential abortion of the charter flight plan, some Taiwanese airlines have signalled their intention to shun the programme due to a lack of sufficient time to prepare.
Top managers of six local carriers reportedly said the one-way charter flight route is a money-losing business as the Taiwan authorities do not allow the plane to carry passengers on its way to the mainland.
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