Cross-Straits charter flights promising
A breakthrough may be expected in launching two-way, round-trip and non-stop charter flights across the Taiwan Straits next month after Beijing officially agreed to such an arrangement yesterday.
Chen Yunlin, minister of the Taiwan Affairs Office of the State Council, expressed a welcome to the proposal raised by Taiwan's "mainland affairs council" while urging the Taiwan authorities to honour its pledge.
"If Taiwan can keep its words and is willing to take flexible measures, mainland-Taiwan air links can be totally achieved this year," he told a delegation of Taiwanese opposition politicians.
Chen demanded non-government talks be held between industrial associations and airlines across the Straits to work out technical and business details for the charter flights.
Any move by Taipei to complicate non-government negotiations under the excuse of "public right" and "security" goes against the interests of the broad mass of Taiwan compatriots, he said.
Chen met with the six-member Kuomintang (KMT) delegation, which arrived in Beijing on Sunday to push for direct cross-Straits charter flights during the 2005 Spring Festival, which falls on February 9.
Scores of representatives from mainland-based Taiwanese-funded enterprises and Taiwanese airlines also attended the meeting.
"Lawmaker" Tseng Yung-chuan, head of the KMT group, quoted Chen as saying the mainland agrees to the model for "non-stop, round-trip, multi-destination flights by carriers on both sides."
"Minister Chen told us the direct charter flight programme for the 2005 Spring Festival will be officially started from today and preparations will come in coming days," Tseng said after the meeting.