Saturday, 5 July 2008

First China <--> Taiwan flight in almost 60 years

Woohoo! About freakin' time...


Direct China flight lands in Taiwan

July 4, 2008 - 10:27AM

The inaugural flight of the first regular direct service between mainland China and Taiwan in almost six decades has landed at Taoyuan international airport, outside Taipei.

The China Southern Airlines Airbus A330, piloted by airline president Liu Shao-yong, touched down at 8.05am (10.05am AEST) with 100 mainland tourists among 258 passengers after a 100-minute flight from Guangzhou.

"This is a sacred moment. The two sides of the strait are like members in one family. Flying over the strait to Taiwan is like coming home. It feels good," Liu said after landing.

Several fire engines splashed water over the aircraft when it was on the tarmac in a welcome gesture.

"We were lucky to be on the plane since many people were fighting for seats on the inaugural flight," said Wang Yu, a Chinese businessman from Zhuhai in southern China.

Wang, in his 40s, said he would take his wife to noted scenic spots like the National Palace Museum, Mountain Ali and Sun Moon Lake.

Taiwanese businessman Tsai Chang-lung and his wife also took the flight.

"It is my wife's gift for me for my 50th birthday. We are happy to enjoy this historic moment together," Tsai said.

There will be a total of 36 round-trip flights across the Taiwan Strait weekly, operating from Friday to Monday. They will fly between six Taiwanese airports and five mainland ones.

On Friday alone, there will be 18 round-trip flights.

The deal will increase the number of tourists making the trip from both sides to 3,000, which is expected to give a much-needed boost to Taiwan's sluggish economy.

China still sees Taiwan as part of its territory awaiting reunification, by force if necessary. But ties between Beijing and Taipei have improved markedly in recent months.

Taiwan banks can now exchange Chinese currency, limits on Taiwanese investment on the mainland have been eased, and some Chinese media outlets which had been banned on the island now have clearance to work.

AFP

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