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Taiwan, Hong Kong sign landmark aviation pact

Taipei, Dec. 30 (CNA) Taiwan and Hong Kong inked a new civil aviation pact in Hong Kong on Friday, a move that both sides said will significantly increase the volume of cargo and passengers between the two. The Mainland Affairs Council said the pact, signed by James Chu, the director of the Taipei Economic and Cultural Office in Hong Kong, and John Leung, the director of the Hong Kong Economic, Trade and Cultural Office in Taipei, was especially significant because it is the first to be signed by official representatives from both sides. The previous two aviation agreements that regulated the routes and number of flights between the two sides were signed by industry representatives in 1996 and 2002, respectively. Under the new agreement that took effect immediately, the Ministry of Transportation and Communications (MOTC) said that each side could increase the number of flights from 170 per week to 198 by March. "The pact marks a breakthrough not only in our aviation industry, but also the overall tourism market," said MOTC Minister Mao Chi-kuo. Charter flights to Hong Kong already fly out of Taiwan's Taoyaun, Taichung and Kaohsiung cities, and the new pact will allow other local airports, with the exception of the Taipei Songshan Airport, to apply for up to 28 charter fights per week to fly to Hong Kong, according to the MOTC. In addition, cargo shipments between the two sides will increase to a total of 5,600 tons from 3,400 tons per week, the ministry said. Meanwhile, local airlines expressed optimism about the new pact, as it is expected to increase demand for cross-strait flights. Although both China Airlines (CAL) and EVA Air Corp., Taiwan's top two air carriers, have said the passenger capacity on their Taiwan-Hong Kong flights is slightly over 70 percent at present, they still expect to see an increase in demand. CAL expects an increased increase, as the region is emerging as one of the world's most important financial hubs, said CAL spokesman Hamilton Liu. "We are optimistic about the future and will take the opportunity to increase the capacity of our Taiwan-Hong Kong services," Liu said. (By Lee Hsin-Yin)

Updated : 2021-07-25 02:38 GMT+08:00