CAAC: Taipei 'obstructing family reunions'

Updated 2018-01-31 16:42:05 China Daily

Mainland civil aviation authorities on Tuesday condemned Taipei's disregard for the well-being of people across the Taiwan Straits by blocking a plan for additional Spring Festival flights.

"Taipei must bear all the subsequent consequences of such an unreasonable practice that is obstructing family reunions," the Civil Aviation Administration of China said in a statement.

Two Chinese mainland airlines said on Tuesday they have had to cancel 176 flights after Taipei blocked a plan for additional Spring Festival flights, citing concerns over new routes across the Taiwan Straits.

China Eastern Airlines and Xiamen Airlines have promised to give full refunds or reschedule flights for passengers who booked the trips, which had been added to schedules to meet increased demand during the seasonal travel rush.

Both carriers have expressed their dissatisfaction and condemned Taipei's actions, as well as apologized for the inconvenience to passengers.

"Taipei ignored the needs of people on both sides, and took people's rights as a bargaining chip. The cancellation of the additional flights will leave millions unable to go home, which seriously hurts the feelings of people on both sides of the Straits," Xiamen Airlines said in a statement.

Adding more flights during the Chinese New Year holiday has been a common practice for years to facilitate Taiwan people returning home for the holidays.

This year, mainland airlines applied to add 508 flights from mainland cities to Taiwan between Feb 2 and March 2. This year, Chinese New Year falls on Feb 16.

Taiwan's aviation authority on Monday blocked 176 flights by China Eastern Airlines and Xiamen Airlines citing safety concerns over the M503 air route. The island's civil aviation department has required airlines operating in Taiwan to stop using the northbound flight route M503, which was launched on Jan 4 by the CAAC, island media have reported.

The CAAC has said the northbound route, along with three new connecting routes, is to relieve air traffic congestion along the southeast coastal areas, and the new route has had an average of 27 flights a day since its launch.

The China Air Transport Association said on Tuesday the route has undergone full technical appraisal and has been approved by the International Civil Aviation Organization, so "the so-called safety issues are unfounded".

"Taipei took the new routes as an excuse, which was inhumane and unwise," it added.

Taipei's practice shows it wants to resume official exchanges with the mainland without recognizing the 1992 Consensus, the one-China policy, by making use of the mainland's sympathy for the people, said Wang Hailiang, a researcher of Taiwan studies at the Shanghai Academy of Social Sciences.

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