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Direct flights a hit with New Year passengers
Updated: 2005-02-05 23:35

Hundreds of passengers carrying boxes of rice cakes and other Chinese New Year gifts arrived Saturday from the mainland, with many saying a 56-year-old ban on direct flights across the Straits should be permanently lifted.

A mother with her baby walks through the passage for boarding at Shanghai's Pudong International Airport yesterday.[Xinhua]
Travelers from the cities of Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou flew into Taiwan on nonstop flights - first flown between the two last weekend after the decades-old ban was temporarily removed for the Lunar New Year holiday.

Four mainland airlines and two Taiwanese airlines flew a total of seven direct charter flights on Saturday, and passengers hailed them for saving hours of flight time.

"We should have these flights all year round, not just the New Year holiday," one unidentified traveler told Sanlih Television.

Without direct links, visitors have to stop in Hong Kong or another third point before flying to and from the mainland from Taiwan, turning a trip that should take only a few hours into a full day's journey.

"The flights will make this New Year holiday all the more special," another passenger said.

Taiwan banned direct links with mainland after 1949.

The Lunar New Year - the biggest Chinese holiday of the year - falls on Wednesday.

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