First charter flight arrives

By Cao Li (China Daily)
Updated: 2007-02-14 07:10

SHANGHAI: This year's first Spring Festival non-stop charter flight from Taiwan to Shanghai landed at Shanghai Pudong International Airport yesterday at 10:10 am.

A total of 231 passengers walked out of the exit gate of Pudong International Airport at about 10:30 am after a flight of 2 hours and 50 minutes.

More than 160 of the 231 passengers were in a tour group, and many others were mothers bringing kids to meet their fathers who operate businesses in Shanghai.

Hua Jingguo, in his 70s, and his wife excitedly greeted their daughter and 15-year-old grandson. They left their apartment at Zhabei District, in the north part of the city, early that morning, and arrived at the airport in east Shanghai at 9 am.

Charter flights across the Straits save them lots of trouble and time, Hua said. "And my son-in-law is coming on February 17, the eve of this Chinese New Year," he said.

Luo Peiling, a Taiwan actress and anchorwoman who also has business and property in Shanghai, expressed her hope to have more and regular flights between Shanghai and Taiwan.

The first charter flight between Taiwan and the Chinese mainland flew from Taipei, stopped over at Hong Kong and landed at Shanghai in early 2003. On January 29, 2005, the first non-stop charter flights were launched before the Chinese lunar new year, after urgent demands by Taiwan businessmen who have operations on the mainland and go back to reunite with family in the holiday.

Now, flights between Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou and Xiamen on the mainland and Taipei and Kaohsiung in Taiwan are a feature of every Spring Festival holiday.

In 2006, the festival flights were expanded to the Mid-Autumn Festival, which falls on the 15th day of the eighth lunar month and is also a time for family reunions. Charter flights for emergency and cargo transportation were also launched in 2006.

This year, more flights were added during the Spring Festival Holiday.

According to the East China Aviation Administration, there will be 120 flights between Taiwan and airports in Shanghai and Xiamen, 28 more than in 2006. And 100 flights will travel between Shanghai Pudong International Airport, arranged from February 13 to 16 and February 23 to 26.

After the first passengers arrived in Shanghai yesterday morning, the same plane, a Boeing 747-400 operated by Taiwan's Mandarin Airlines, took off again at 11:40 am and carried 200 passengers back to Taipei.

Today, the first mainland-operated flight from Shanghai to Taiwan, run by China Eastern Airline, will take off at 8:30 am. The plane is an Airbus 340-600 with a capacity of more than 300 passengers.

The largest number of flights will be between February 15 and 16, and February 24 and 25.

(China Daily 02/14/2007 page3)

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