Fire drills carried out in Taiwan due to invasion risk from China
31 January, 2018, 08:49 | Author: Miranda Cannon
China blamed Taiwan for the cancellation of plans for extra Lunar New Year flights, but the island's Ministry of Transportation and Communications (MOTC) said Tuesday it was still willing to talk.
Taipei has objected to China's use of an air route, designated M503, which is only 5 miles from the central line of the Taiwan Strait, dividing the island from the mainland. Earlier this month, a statement was released by the Civil Aviation Administration of China indicating that it was opening four new routes to reduce pressure on the current air traffic over the Taiwan airspace.
According toReuters.com, China Eastern Airlines and Xiamen Airlines revealed Thursday issues between Beijing and Taiwan over flight routes forced the carriers to cancel the holiday trips after the Taiwanese government refused to approve the journeys.
Taiwan's aviation authority didn't approve 176 cross-Straits flights operated by China Eastern Airlines and Xiamen Airlines - less than a month ahead of the Spring Festival, the most important family gathering event in China.
In an apparent counter-measure, the Taiwanese authorities have withheld applications for additional Lunar New Year flights from 2 Chinese airliners which are using the new routes. Officials from the Taiwan government have said that the flight routes pose a risk as they pass through island airports that are under their control but are geographically positioned near mainland China.
China considers Taiwan a wayward province, and relations have cooled dramatically since Tsai Ing-wen of the independence-leaning Democratic Progressive Party took office as Taiwan's president in 2016.
China Eastern apologised to its customers and said it will offer refunds and rebookings for the 40,000 passengers on the 106 cancelled flights.
China Eastern Airlines said passengers affected by the cancellations include businesspersons, tourists and students. Mr Chen Kuang-chung, a Taiwanese entrepreneur in the Chinese city of Xiamen, said: "Unable to buy an air ticket, I would have to travel by ship from Xiamen to Kinmen before taking a local airline to return to Taipei". "It's not at all that we said we didn't agree for them to apply", Ho added.
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