China, Taiwan to allow cargo flights in expanded air pact

Singapore
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China and Taiwan have firmed up an historic agreement that will allow for many more passenger flights between the two sides as well as regular cargo flights.

The agreement was formalised in Taiwan today during high-level talks between the two sides, which have been rivals since 1949 when they split following a civil war.

Under the agreement that was signed by the top two government negotiators, 108 passenger flights will now be allowed between the two sides each week - three times more than the current 36.

Flights will also be allowed every day of the week, rather than only between Fridays and Mondays, and many more Chinese cities will be open for non-stop services to and from Taiwan - increasing to 21 from the current five.

In addition, the agreement will allow for the first dedicated cargo flights between the two sides. This will initially be capped at 60 per month and is seen as a particularly important element of today's agreement, given that trade ties are growing. Taiwan's China Airlines and EVA Air each have minority stakes in Chinese cargo airlines.

China considers Taiwan a renegade province and the two sides have no formal diplomatic relations, although ties have improved dramatically in recent months since a new government took power in Taiwan.

Regular non-stop passenger flights between China and Taiwan only began early in July, nearly 60 years after the two sides split. Six airlines from China and five from Taiwan are currently operating a combined total of 36 round-trip flights between Fridays and Mondays.

Today's expanded agreement also allows for more direct routings across the Taiwan Strait to reduce flight times.