China and Taiwan start scheduled services after 60 years

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Chinese and Taiwanese carriers earlier today launched much-awaited scheduled services across the Taiwan Strait, marking the first time in 60 years there have been scheduled non-stop flights between China and Taiwan.

Taiwanese carrier China Airlines (CAL) says its first scheduled passenger flight took off earlier today from Taipei Taoyuan airport to Beijing.

CAL had already been operating on the route on a charter basis.

It also says that it is starting services today on four new routes to China, namely Taipei Taoyuan-Zhengzhou, Taipei Taoyuan-Xiamen, Taipei Taoyuan-Ningbo and Taipei Taoyuan Xian.

An EVA Air spokeswoman says the carrier's first scheduled service to China took off earlier today and it was on the Taipei Songshan-Xiamen route.

Today, EVA will have scheduled flights on 10 China routes altogether, she says. The others are: Taipei Taoyuan-Beijing. Taipei Taoyuan-Shanghai, Taipei Taoyuan-Hangzhou, Taipei Taoyuan-Ningbo, Taipei Taoyuan-Qingdao, Taipei Taoyuan-Kunming, Kaohsiung-Chengdu and Taipei Taoyuan-Guangzhou.

Taiwan's TransAsia Airways is also launching scheduled flights today, as are Chinese carriers such as Air China, China Southern Airlines and China Eastern Airlines.

In April, China and Taiwan signed an agreement allowing for an increase in flights between the two sides to 270 passenger flights per week and 112 cargo flights per month. It also allowed some of the flights to be scheduled.

These are the first scheduled flights between China and Taiwan since 1949, when the Nationalist Government fled to Taiwan and left the mainland to the communists.