Holiday flights virtually sold out in Taiwan
Updated: 2006-01-19 19:58
Charter flights between Taiwan and the mainland for the coming Chinese New
Year holiday are virtually sold out in a significant increase in bookings over
last year, the major Taiwanese airlines said Thursday.
Beginning Friday, six Taiwanese airlines and six Chinese mainland airlines
will provide a total of 72 round-trip charter flights until February 13, under
an agreement worked out by civil aviation associations of the two sides.
This is the third year that the Chinese New Year charter flights have been in
operation. In 2003 and 2005 they were limited to Taiwanese business people
residing on the mainland, but this year Taiwanese students and tourists have
also been allowed to book space.
The major Taiwanese airlines said the decision has been a boon to business.
"Business is much better than last year, because there are no restrictions
anymore on the kinds of passengers," said Bruce Chen, a spokesman for China
Airlines, the island's largest carrier. "All flights are full in economy, and
there are only some seats left in first class."
Taiwan's second carrier, EVA Airways, also said the flights looked like a
"Flights from Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou to Taiwan are completely
booked, and those in the other direction are up to 90 percent full," said
spokesman K.W. Nieh.
Chinese people traditionally spend the New Year holiday with relatives, and
with several hundred thousand Taiwanese on the mainland, the charter flights
have a built in market.
Direct air links between the Chinese mainland and Taiwan ended when the two
sides split amid civil war in 1949. Travelers on commercial flights are required
to transfer at third point _ usually Hong Kong.
Taiwan has been reluctant to allow the direct flights because of security