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Taiwan raises safety concerns following altered Chinese flight routes

Transport minister says planes flying closer to Taiwan could be dangerous during bad weather

Taiwan Minister of Transportation and Communications. (CNA photo) 

Taiwan Minister of Transportation and Communications. (CNA photo) 

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — China's Civil Aviation Administration (CAAC) decision to alter multiple flight routes affects the safety of Taiwan aviation, Minister of Transportation and Communications Wang Kwo-tsai (王國材) said on Wednesday (Jan. 31).

The CAAC announced that effective Feb. 1 the flight "offset measure" for its M503 route, which operates from north to south, will be canceled. Chinese flights flying southbound over the Taiwan Strait would now be closer to the median line, Taiwan's flight information region, and air defense identification zone.

The CAAC also said it would allow its W122 and W123 routes to run eastward to "improve the efficiency of airspace operations."

Wang expressed regret over the move, pointing out that the M503 route was only 4.2 nautical miles (7.8 km) from the Taiwan Strait median line, CNA reported. If there is inclement weather, aircraft may deviate eastward, which could be a problem for Taiwan's civil and military aircraft.

The minister said that the W122 route runs close to Matsu’s Nangan and Nangang airports, while the W123 route is near Kinmen Airport. Without communication between both sides, there may be flight safety concerns.

He said that Taiwan’s military and Civil Aeronautics Administration will devise a joint plan in response to this situation.