|Crew members of China Southern Airlines'
Charter Flight CZ3097 takes a photo upon their arrival in Taipei,
southeast China's Taiwan Province, Jan. 29, 2005. Landing here at 9:28
(0128 GMT) Jan. 29, the flight became the first Chinese mainland-based
civil aviation airplane flying to Taiwan in 56 years. (Xinhua Photo/He
|Officials from airlines across the Taiwan
Straits shake hands after China Southern Airlines' Charter Flight CZ3097
arrived in Taipei, southeast China's Taiwan Province, Jan. 29, 2005.
Landing here at 9:28 (0128 GMT) Jan. 29, the flight became the first
Chinese mainland-based civil aviation airplane flying to Taiwan in 56
years. (Xinhua Photo/He Zili)|
during the stamp-issuing ceremony held by the State Administration of
Postal Services of the special stamps marking the first non-stop charter
flights across Taiwan Strait at the Capital International Airport in
Beijing, capital of China, Jan. 29, 2005. Air China's charter flights set
off from mainland to Taiwan on Saturday, carrying Taiwan business people
aboard for their homeward journey before the Spring Festival, or the
Chinese lunar new year. The flights were the first civil aircrafts from
the Chinese mainland to Taiwan in the past 56 years. (Xinhua Photo/Zhang
Flight Number MU579 of
China Eastern Airlines for the non-stop charter flight from the mainland
to Taiwan Province takes off at east China's Shanghai Pudong Airport Jan.
29, 2005. The flight took off here to Taiwan at 9:00 a.m. Saturday,
carrying Taiwan business people aboard for their homeward journey before
the Spring Festival, or the Chinese lunar new year. It was one of the
first civil aircrafts from the Chinese mainland to Taiwan in the past 56
years. (Xinhua Photo/Zhang Ming)
A Taiwanese passenger
shows his boarding check to board the non-stop charter flight from the
mainland to Taiwan Province at the Capital International Airport in
Beijing, capital of China, Jan. 29, 2005. (Xinhua Photo/Jing
look back as they board a plane of Air China for the first non-stop
charter flight from the mainland to Taiwan Province at the Capital
International Airport in Beijing, capital of China, Jan. 29, 2005. (Xinhua
Stewardess of Air China
get ready for the non-stop charter flight across the Taiwan Strait in
Beijing, capital of China, Jan. 29, 2005. (Xinhua Photo/Wang Yongji)
Pan Jialiang (1st L), a
Taiwanese business man, receives a bouquet after finishing his boarding
procedure for the first non-stop charter flight across the Taiwan Strait
in Guangzhou Baiyun Airport of Guangzhou, capital of South China's
Guangdong Province Jan. 29, 2005. (Xinhua photo/Zhuang Jin)
BEIJING, Jan. 31-- On Saturday Chinese on both sides of
the Taiwan Straits saw non-stop air links for the first time in more than five
The charter flights followed an agreement by the two
sides earlier this month to make travel easier during the Spring Festival
period. Despite the fanfare, much still needs to be done to build on this
At nine thirty Saturday morning, a China Southern
Airlines' flight touched down in Taipei after a flight of an hour and a half. It
was the first mainland commercial flight to arrive here since 1949.
This was by no means a routine landing. The two sides
of the Taiwan Straits have waited over half a century for this moment.
The passengers were Taiwan business people in the
mainland, and coming home for the lunar New Year.
Taiwan Businessman Ma Hsiaolay said: "More and more
Taiwan businessmen will benefit if direct flights become regular."
Taiwan Businesswoman Tsai Hueling said: "The charter
flight means a lot to me. I think the government should just open direct links
between Taiwan and the mainland."
The Southern Airlines' plane was just one of seven
flights taking off from Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou and landing in Taipei
The mainland and Taiwan agreed earlier this month to
allow 12 airliners to operate 48 non-stop charter flights in three weeks for
Taiwan businesspeople and their families staying in the mainland.
Although the flights have to be routed through Hong
Kong airspace, the deal already signals major progress.
Usually, passengers must transit through Hong Kong or
Macao, because of a Taiwan ban on direct air links with the mainland.
The planes from the Chinese mainland have landed in
the Taiwan Island. And now Taiwan airplanes have also landed in Beijing. At
about 12 o'clock, a China Airlines plane became the first Taiwan based airplane
to do so in more than 55 years.
Businesses on both sides of the straits are hoping
for a boost from the flights. Six Taiwan-based airlines are taking part,
spearheaded by China Airlines and EVA Air. The crew from Taiwan was also
savoring the moment.
Tso Weikang, Chief Pilot of EVA Air, said: "As a
crew, it's my first time to fly to Beijing. Nobody. In the past, I've been a
passenger to BJ before. This time, it's different."
Taiwan Businessman Huang Zhengyi said: "It saved me a
lot of time, quite a few hours. It took less than half a day to be here."
Non-stop flights cut the time by half. Direct flights
would be even quicker. The aviation industry would like to see it happen. But
political obstacles remain. Still, this Taiwan legislator is optimistic.
Chang Hsiao-Yen, president of Taiwan Business
Development Promotion Association, said: "We hope that a kind of scheduled
charter flight can be worked out besides lunar New Year."
One way to expand the market would be to make the
tens of thousands of Taiwan students studying in the mainland and not just the
business community eligible for the flights. But that decision is up to the
Taiwan side to make.