Cross-Strait charter

Last updated
On January 29, 2005, China Airlines Flight 581 took off from Taoyuan International Airport and landed at Beijing International Airport Ci581 pek.JPG
On January 29, 2005, China Airlines Flight 581 took off from Taoyuan International Airport and landed at Beijing International Airport

The cross-strait charters (simplified Chinese :两岸包机; traditional Chinese :兩岸包機; pinyin :liǎng'àn bāojī) are special flights between Taiwan and Mainland China, across the Taiwan Strait. After the Chinese Civil War, no direct flights were allowed between Taiwan and Mainland China due to mistrust and security concerns; this remained the case until 2003. Passengers had to transfer in a third city, such as Hong Kong, to complete their trip.

Contents

For the years 2003 and 2005, the scheme was restricted for the Chinese New Year period, so it was then called the Lunar New Year cross-strait charter (simplified Chinese:两岸春节包机; traditional Chinese:兩岸春節包機; pinyin:liǎng'àn chūnjié bāojī) in Taiwan, and the charter for Taiwan residents (simplified Chinese:台湾居民包机; traditional Chinese:臺灣居民包機; pinyin:táiwān jūmín bāojī) in Mainland China. For these years, the scheme was restricted for Taiwanese businessmen and their family members (excluding students and tourists) who are in Mainland China to travel to and from Taiwan.

In 2006, the service was opened to all residents of Taiwan for the first time. From the Mid-Autumn Festival on 2006, the valid period of the agreement was expanded to four main Chinese festivals: Qingming Festival, Dragon Boat Festival, Mid-Autumn Festival, and the original Chinese New Year.

In July 2008, charter flights expanded to weekends. Flight restrictions on nationalities were removed and Mainland China residents as well as foreign citizens were able to take the flights.

In November 2008, flights became daily instead only for the weekends. 108 weekly flights were established and the planes no longer had to travel through Hong Kong airspace, cutting travel times by two thirds in some cases such as flying from Taipei to Shanghai.

In April 2009, a new agreement was reached to allow cross-strait flights to become regularly scheduled instead of chartered. The cap on the flights was also raised to 270 flights per week, effective 31 August 2009. [1] On 22 May 2010, another 100 additional weekly flights were permitted to be operated effective 14 June 2010, and Shanghai Hongqiao International Airport and Shijiazhuang Airport were added to the list of allowed destinations. [2] [3]

Background

There was no official contact for over 50 years between the governments of Taiwan — where the Kuomintang (KMT) had retreated — and Mainland China since the Communist Party of China established the People's Republic of China in 1949, after the Chinese Civil War. However, when the Chinese Economic Reform began welcoming foreign funds in the 1980s, Mainland China sought greater contact with Taiwan. Chiang Ching-kuo refused, beginning a policy of "Three Noes". The Three Noes policy was abandoned, however, when a flight bound for Taiwan was hijacked and Taiwan was forced to negotiate with Mainland China, beginning a series of negotiations. Merchants started investing in Mainland China and people visited their relatives. Air traffic between Taiwan and Mainland China grew dramatically, but no direct flights were allowed. Passengers traveling to Mainland China had to travel via an intermediate destination such as Hong Kong or Macau, or via South Korea and Japan. The travel time usually took more than a half day, especially during the holidays such as the Spring Festival.

In the 1990s, the government of Mainland China proposed the 'three direct links' - including direct air flights between Mainland China and Taiwan - to ease the travel problem. However, Taiwanese government rejected this idea.

In 2002, Taiwan legislator John Chiang proposed that there should be special charters across the strait, and received support from the public and the aviation industry in Taiwan.

The talks

The previous regime of negotiations via the Straits Exchange Foundation and the Association for Relations Across the Taiwan Straits had broken down by the time Chen Shui-bian came to office. A political impasse prevented the resumption of semi-official dialogue, because the People's Republic of China government insisted on the recognition of the one China principle or the more ambiguous 1992 consensus as the basis for the talks. By contrast, the Republic of China government under Chen Shui-bian did not recognise the one China principle and repudiated the 1992 consensus reached under the previous administration. As a result, aviation industry bodies were accredited by the respective governments to negotiate only on the technical and operational aspects of the charter flights.

The governmental bodies politically responsible for the talks were the ROC Affairs Office of the State Council of the People's Republic of China, led by Chen Yunlin.

From 2000 to 2008, progress of talks were often severely affected by the political climate in Taiwan. After the re-election of the Chen Shui-bian government in 2004, the talks for the 2004 Chinese New Year charter flights were aborted when the PRC government was offended by Chen's independence-leaning rhetoric talks.

Aviation industry

Aviation companies operated at a huge loss for the 2003 charter flights due to the fact that all passengers could only travel one-way - that is, the flights traveled with no passengers for half the journey. Moreover, due to complicated procedures set out in the talks, the aviation companies could not hold direct-flights and had to travel through Hong Kong or Macau, greatly increasing their cost. Nonetheless, the aviation companies were glad to provide the services, in part due to the historical nature and in part due to the possible promotional benefits from participating in the events, which were widely reported by the media.

Reaction in Taiwan and in Mainland China

The Pan-Blue coalition, which led the talks from Taiwan, supported the charter flights. The majority Pan-Green coalition, however, saw it as "step towards reunification " which Taiwanese people do not prefer and criticized the Pan-Blue coalition for holding talks with the PRC without government permissions. The Taiwanese public at large, and especially the merchants who benefited the most, supported the charter flights, and the Pan-Blue coalition benefited from the positive response.

2003 Charters

Events

  1. Only ROC operators could fly the routes during the Chinese New Year as a charter.
  2. Flights may only originate in Taipei's Chiang Kai-shek International Airport (Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport) and Kaohsiung International Airport, and may only arrive in Shanghai Hongqiao International Airport or Shanghai Pudong International Airport.
  3. Charters must have at least one stopover in either Hong Kong or Macau, with no traffic between the stopover and both Taiwan and Mainland China cities.
  4. Passengers may only be merchants and their families.

The period of 16 charter flights occurred between January 26 and February 9, 2003.

Flight record

AirlinesFrom Shanghai to TaiwanStop-overFrom Taiwan to Shanghai
China Airlines January 26Hong KongFebruary 9
TransAsia Airways January 26MacauFebruary 7
Far Eastern Air Transport January 27,28,29
(3 flights in total)
MacauFebruary 5,6,7
(3 flights in total)
EVA Air January 29MacauFebruary 8
Uni Air January 29MacauFebruary 8
Mandarin Airlines January 30Hong KongFebruary 7

Flight details

2005 Charters

Events

  1. Time Period: January 29~February 20, 2005.
  2. Restricted destinations: Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou <-> Taipei, Kaohsiung
  3. Airlines on both side could apply the charters to the related governmental departments on the opposite side. Charters would operated in the type of "Both-joining, directly non-stop, carrying passengers both ways (round-trip), and more dots (means destinations in Chinese) included".
  4. Only Tai-merchants could take the flights.
  5. Planes had to go through the Hong Kong Flight Information Region without landing.

Flight records

The six mainland Chinese airlines originated in three cities in Mainland China: Beijing (Air China, Hainan Airlines), Shanghai (China Eastern Airlines), and Guangzhou (China Southern Airlines, Xiamen Airlines). All Air China's flight are operated by Shandong Airlines' aircraft to avoid Air China's livery which features the "Five Star Red Flag".

The Taiwanese airlines were the same as in 2003. Most Taiwanese flights departed for Guangzhou (TransAsia Airways), and Kaohsiung was mainly serviced by Uni Air.

One-Way/round-trip argument

As the charter flight was only for Taiwanese merchants returning home for the Chinese New Year, there would not be a demand to travel from Taiwan to Mainland China before the New Year's Day. Neither would there be people needing to travel on the flights from Mainland China to Taiwan that operated on dates after the New Year period.

In order to make sure the original purpose was not violated, in the 2003 case, the ROC government ensured that passengers could only travel one way, that meant no one was allowed to fly from Taiwan to Mainland China before the festival, and no one could travel on the return flight after the festival.

However, since the 2005 charters, the ROC government later approved of passengers traveling the entire round-trip though there were still other limits.

2006 Charters

Events

Flight details

2008 Humanitarian flights

Date: May 16, 2008

Airlines: EVA Air (Chongqing), China Airlines (Chongqing), TransAsia Airways (Chongqing), Mandarin Airlines (Chengdu)

Due to the Sichuan earthquake, many Taiwan travelers were unable to get flights out of the quake region. Both governments reached a deal and chartered four flights to depart from Chengdu and Chongqing to Taiwan on May 16, 2008.

2008 Charters

Route Map of the weekend Cross-strait charter, for flights as of August, 2008. Cross-strait charters weekends08.jpg
Route Map of the weekend Cross-strait charter, for flights as of August, 2008.

Under the agreement reached on June 13, 2008, charter flights began on weekends starting July 4, 2008. [5] A total of 18 flights per weekend (Friday to Monday) are allowed under this agreement. Unlike previous charters, anyone with legal traveling documents, regardless of nationality, was allowed to travel on these charter flights. Initially, Mainland China permitted flights from Beijing, Shanghai (Pudong Airport), Guangzhou, Xiamen, and Nanjing airports, and the plan was to permit flights from Chengdu, Chongqing, Dalian, Guilin, Shenzhen, Shenyang, Xian and other spots with market demand in the future, while the ROC government permitted flights from Taiwan Taoyuan Airport, Taipei Songshan Airport, Kaohsiung, Taichung, Makung, Hualien, Kinmen, and Taitung.

On July 4, 2008, the first flight carrying 230 passengers belonging to China Southern Airlines arrived at Taoyuan International Airport. [6]

Started on 15 December 2008, direct flights, direct shippings and direct mail are fully restored between Mainland China and Taiwan per the Three Links agreement. It marks the end of cross-strait charter flights and marks the beginning of regular scheduled flights. Shanghai and Taipei Area Control Center can pass traffic to each other at SULEM (Waypoint in Aviation) in the northern flight path while no direct pass-off for southern flight path.

See also

Related Research Articles

China Airlines (CAL) is the state-owned national carrier of the Republic of China, and one of its two major airlines along with EVA Air. It is headquartered in Taipei Taoyuan International Airport and operates over 1400 flights weekly to 102 cities across Asia, Europe, North America, and Oceania. Carrying over 19 million passengers and 5700 tons of cargo in 2017, the carrier was the 33rd largest airline in the world in terms of revenue passenger kilometers (RPK) and 10th largest in terms of freight revenue ton kilometers (FRTK).

The Three Links or Three Linkages was a 1979 proposal from the National People's Congress of the People's Republic of China (PRC) to open up postal, transportation, and trade links between China and Taiwan, with the goal of unifying Mainland China and Taiwan.

Shanghai Hongqiao International Airport

Shanghai Hongqiao International Airport is one of two international airports of Shanghai and an important airline hub of China. Hongqiao Airport mainly serves domestic and regional flights, although the airport also serves international flights. The airport is located near the town of Hongqiao in Changning District and Minhang District, 13 kilometres (8.1 mi) west of downtown, and is closer to the city center than the area's primary international airport, Shanghai Pudong.

Songshan Airport Commercial airport and military airbase in Songshan, Taipei, Taiwan

Taipei Songshan Airport is a mid-size international airport and military airbase located in Songshan, Taipei, Taiwan. The airport covers an area of 182 hectares.

China Southern Airlines Company Limited is an airline headquartered in Baiyun District, Guangzhou, Guangdong Province. Established on 1 July 1988 following the restructuring of the CAAC Airlines that acquired and merged a number of domestic airlines, the airline became one of China's "Big Three" airlines, the world's sixth-largest airline measured by passengers carried and Asia's largest airline in fleet size, revenue, and passengers carried. With its main hubs at Guangzhou Baiyun International Airport and Beijing Daxing International Airport, the airline operates more than 2,000 flights to more than 200 destinations daily and was a member of SkyTeam until 1 January 2019. The airline started a frequent flyer program partnership with American Airlines in March 2019. The logo of the airline consists of a kapok flower on a blue tail fin. The company slogan is Fly into your dreams.

Kaohsiung International Airport

Kaohsiung International Airport (高雄國際機場) is a medium-sized civil airport in Siaogang District, Kaohsiung, Taiwan, also known as Siaogang Airport. With nearly seven million passengers in 2018, it is the second busiest airport in Taiwan, after Taoyuan. The airport has a single east–west runway and two terminals: one international and one domestic. It is owned and operated by the Civil Aeronautics Administration.

XiamenAir, formerly known as Xiamen Airlines, is a Chinese passenger airline based in Xiamen, Fujian Province. The airline operates scheduled passenger flights out of Xiamen Gaoqi International Airport and, to a lesser extent, Beijing Daxing International Airport, Fuzhou Changle International Airport and Hangzhou Xiaoshan International Airport. The airline is owned by China Southern Airlines (55%), Xiamen Construction and Development Group (34%), and Fujian Investment & Development Group (11%). Xiamen Airlines holds a 99.47% stake in Hebei Airlines and a 60% stake in Jiangxi Airlines.

Air Macau Company Limited is the flag carrier airline of Macau. It operates services to 24 destinations in Mainland China, Japan, South Korea, Thailand, Taiwan and Vietnam, as well as regional international services, from its hub at Macau International Airport. In 2014, Air Macau carried 2.12 million passengers with an average load factor of 68.20% and carried 15,900 tonnes of cargo and mail.

2005 Pan–Blue visits to mainland China

The 2005 Pan–Blue visits to mainland China were a series of groundbreaking visits by delegations of the Kuomintang (KMT) and their allied Pan-Blue Coalition to mainland China. They were hailed as the highest level of exchange between the Communist Party of China and the Kuomintang since Chiang Kai-shek and Mao Zedong met in Chongqing, China on August 28, 1945.

The Three-Noes Policy is a policy established in April 1979 and maintained by President Chiang Ching-kuo of the Republic of China, commonly known as Taiwan, in response to the People's Republic of China's attempts to have direct contact with the ROC. When the United States broke diplomatic ties with the ROC in 1979, the PRC believed that it had complete leverage in convincing the ROC government to talk. President Chiang Ching-kuo refused, reiterating that there were to be "no contact, no negotiation and no compromise" (不接觸,不談判,不妥協) with the Chinese Communists.

Cross-Strait relations Relations between the Peoples Republic of China (Mainland China) and Republic of China (Taiwan)

Cross-Strait relations refer to the relationship between the following two political entities, which are separated by the Taiwan Strait in the west Pacific Ocean:

Chinese passport

The People's Republic of China passport, commonly referred to as the Chinese passport, is a passport issued to nationals of the People's Republic of China (PRC) who have registered as a resident of Mainland China and hence hold a hukou, for the purpose of international travel, and entitles the bearer to the protection of China's consular officials overseas.

Chiayi Airport

Chiayi Airport, commonly known as Shueishang Airport, is an airport in Chiayi County, Taiwan. The airport has one runway, and it is used as a civilian airport and is co-located next to Chiayi Air Base. Chiayi Airport is envisioned as a gateway to the Alishan National Scenic Area, a popular tourist destination in Taiwan.

There are bilateral treaties that govern aviation rights between the United States and China, which cover both passenger services and cargo services. The United States has liberal aviation agreements with many countries but not China, Japan, South Africa, and some South American countries. However, there is no "open skies" agreement between China and the US, which generally refers to an agreement that allows unrestricted flights between countries. The current US-China treaty specifies the number of flights permitted. Due to the highly regulated nature of awards for route authority between the two countries and the strict limits on number of flights, the application process is competitive. US airlines have sought to gain support from local politicians and the general public to influence the US government into awarding routes.

1990 Guangzhou Baiyun airport collisions

On October 2, 1990, a hijacked Boeing 737, operating Xiamen Airlines Flight 8301, collided with two other aircraft on the runways of the old Guangzhou Baiyun International Airport, while attempting to land. The hijacked aircraft struck a parked China Southwest Airlines Flight 4305 first, inflicting only minor damage, but then collided with China Southern Airlines Flight 3523, a Boeing 757 waiting to take off, flipping onto its back. A total of 128 people were killed, including seven of nine crew members and 75 of 93 passengers on Flight 8301 and 46 of 110 passengers on Flight 3523.

Mainland Travel Permit for Taiwan Residents

The Mainland Travel Permit for Taiwan Residents, also known as Taiwan Compatriot Permit, is a type of travel document issued by Government of the People's Republic of China (PRC) to the Republic of China nationals (ROC) who hold household registration in Taiwan. The document is issued by the Ministry of Public Security (MPS). Since the identity documents issued by the government of the Republic of China are not recognized in the PRC, the permit serves as both the main travel document and identity document for Taiwanese people in the PRC territory and is used in all occasions in lieu of the Taiwan passport.

Visa policy of China Policy on permits required to enter Mainland China

Visitors to the mainland of the People's Republic of China must obtain a visa from one of the Chinese diplomatic missions, unless they come from one of the visa exempt countries. The two Special Administrative Regions – Hong Kong and Macau – maintain their own independent border control policies and thus have their own separate visa requirements.

TonleSap Airlines

Tonlesap Airlines Corp. was an airline with its head office in Phnom Penh, Cambodia. It was a regional carrier operating a scheduled domestic network and regional flights to neighbouring countries. Its main base was Phnom Penh International Airport.

China Airlines Flight 334

China Airlines Flight 334 was a Boeing 747-2R7F/SCD freighter aircraft that was hijacked by pilot Wang Xijue on May 3, 1986 while en route to Don Mueang, Thailand. Wang managed to subdue the two other crew members and changed course to land the 747 in Guangzhou, where he defected to the People's Republic of China. The incident forced the Chiang Ching-kuo government in Taiwan to reverse its Three Noes policy in regard to contacting the communist government in mainland China, and Chiang dispatched several delegates to Hong Kong to negotiate with mainland officials for the return of the aircraft and crew. The incident was credited as a catalyst in renewing cross-strait relations between mainland China and Taiwan.

References

  1. https://web.archive.org/web/20090430102402/http://online.wsj.com/article/BT-CO-20090426-700018.html. Archived from the original on April 30, 2009.Missing or empty |title= (help)
  2. "Chinese carriers expected to operate more cross-straits flights".
  3. "Shanghai most popular destination for cross-s".
  4. "两岸包机直航首开载重症病患返台." BBC Chinese.
  5. "Direct China-Taiwan flights begin". BBC. 2008-07-04. Retrieved 2008-07-04.
  6. "Historic China-Taiwan flights a sign of warming relations". CBC. 2008-07-04. Retrieved 2008-07-04.