Five airlines of Taiwan to operate weekend flights to China

Monday, June 23, 2008, 5:51 by Aviation Correspondent

According to an official of Taiwan’s Civil Aeronautics Administration, Taiwan and China have signed a “historic agreement” to allow each side to operate 18 round-trip passenger charter flights from Friday through Monday. In addition, the agreement permits more tourists from China to visit Taiwan.

In accordance with the agreement reached between Taiwan and China, on the first weekend, 3 carriers of Taiwan – Mandarin Airlines, Transasia Airways Corporation and Uni Airways Corporation – will operate 4 round-trip flights to China. Taiwan’s China Airlines and Eva Airways will offer 3 flights.

The allocation would rotate each weekend so that each airline would get an equal number of flights in a 5-week span, the official of Taiwan’s Civil Aeronautics Administration said.

Far Eastern Air Transport Corporation, another Taiwanese carrier allowed to operate services to China, had stopped flying on May 13, 2008, because of shortage of  funds. The carrier is under bankruptcy protection until August 20, 2008.

Since flights to Pudong Airport, Shanghai, China, are limited to 9 round-trips a  weekend under the agreement, the 5 Taiwanese airlines – Mandarin Airlines, Transasia Airways Corporation, Uni Airways Corporation, China Airlines and Eva Airways – would rotate their Shanghai quotas, the official said.

China Airlines will use Airbus A330-300 and Boeing 737-800 aircraft on their charter flights – all of which will provide two-class service. Mandarin Airlines will use a new Embraer 190 for its charters.

Air China, China Southern Airlines and China Eastern Airlines, China’s top three state-controlled carriers by market share, will each operate 4 round-trip flights to Taiwan a week, China’s official news agency Xinhua quoted Chinese officials as stating.

Three smaller carriers of China – Hainan Airlines, Xiamen Airlines and Shanghai Airlines Company – will each operate 2 weekly round-trip flights to Taiwan.

The Taiwan-China agreement also provides for adding more direct flights and destinations depending on market demand.

A small number of non-stop charter flights between Taiwan and China have been allowed in recent years, but they were restricted to holidays.

Aviation analysts think that Taiwanese carriers will get greater advantage than Chinese carriers from the new agreement on direct flights.

According to JP Morgan, the financial services firm headquartered in New York City, 36 passenger charter flights a week will raise the net profits of Chinese airlines by less than 1% and cut the earnings of Hong Kong-based Cathay Pacific by a similar quantity.

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