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EVA 'Combi' charter a tight fit for Taiwan presidential group

President Ma Ying-jeou's third overseas diplomatic mission began Monday evening with the squeezing of the 200-plus delegation into an EVA Air Boeing 747-400 "Combi," or combination passenger and air cargo, jet aircraft for an 11-hour transpacific flight from Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport.
The use of the veteran EVA Air "Combi" marks the third change of flight styles in Ma's three overseas diplomatic missions.
In his first overseas trip last August to attend the back to back inaugurals of Paraguayan President Fernando Lugo and Dominican Republic President Leonel Fernandez, Ma choose to fly regular commercial China Airlines flights between Taoyuan and Los Angeles, charter a Miami Air International Boeing 737-800 for flights between Los Angeles, Asuncion, Santo Domingo and San Francisco, and fly again on a CAL commercial Boeing 747-400 to return to Taiwan.
With the exception of Ma and various officials who had first class seating, the rest of the delegation had business class seats while the accompanying press corps had economy seats in the cramped CAL and Miami Air International aircraft.
More spacious accommodations were available on the president's late May and early June mission to Belize, Guatemala and El Salvador for the June 1 inaugural of Salvadoran President Mauricio Funes as Ma return to the ``standard operating procedure`` in offshore missions in the second term of the former Chen administration and chartered a Boeing 747-400 from CAL for the entire journey.
Given the nearly 400 seats for a delegation of just over 200, the CAL flight provided considerable room for rest and work during the nine-day trip and made up for any extra direct costs with convenience and safety, especially given concerns over A(H1N1) swine influenza.
The choice of EVA Air to ferry the president and his entourage, which included nearly 60 government officials, nine ruling Chinese Nationalist Party (Kuomintang) legislators, official staff, the members of the Ju Percussion Group, a few international relations professor and students and 37 news workers, marked a new "in-between" choice.
Evergreen Group Executive Officer for Public Relations Nieh Kuo-wei told The Taiwan News that the Boeing 747-400 Combi, which was fully refurbished for the mission, was chosen by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs over a conventional Boeing 747-400 with 370 seats mainly because of its large cargo space and because the seating arrangements could be quickly change to a first class section.


Updated : 2021-05-12 01:31 GMT+08:00