(AFP) – Jun 13, 2010
TAIPEI — Taiwan and China on Monday launched a new flight between Taipei and Shanghai that will cut the time travellers spend on their journey, officials said.
Three airlines from Taiwan and one from China will service the route, which links Sungshan airport, in downtown Taipei, and Hongqiao airport in Shanghai.
"Direct flights (launched last year) indeed have helped exchanges between the two sides," said Philip Wei, chairman of Taiwan's leading air carrier China Airlines. "I believe the new route will facilitate the development."
Observers say the Sungshan-Hongqiao route will cut the travel time, as so far Taipei passengers travelling to Shanghai have had to spend 45 minutes to drive to Taoyuan airport outside the capital.
On top of that has come a 90-minute ride downtown from Shanghai's Pudong airport. However, Hongqiao is about 30 minutes closer to the centre of Shanghai.
The new route was inaugurated after China and Taiwan made "substantial progress" during negotiations for a comprehensive trade pact, known as Economic Cooperation Framework Agreement.
Taiwan's Beijing-friendly government, which says the deal will boost growth and employment, has been pushing to sign the agreement in June.
China and Taiwan began direct chartered flights in 2008 as part of a drive to boost ties after Ma Ying-jeou became the island's president.
The two sides last year upgraded the charter services to scheduled flights in an agreement that also more than doubled the number of trips.
However, Beijing considers self-ruled Taiwan a part of its territory awaiting reunification, by force if necessary. They split in 1949 after a civil war.
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