More Chinese airlines to serve Taiwan

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China's Government is to allow more of the country's airlines to serve Taiwan, lifting to nine the total number of Chinese carriers serving the island with passenger flights as well as three others with cargo flights.

Air China, China Eastern Airlines, China Southern Airlines, Hainan Airlines, Shanghai Airlines and Xiamen Airlines have since July been operating non-stop passenger services to Taiwan. The Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC) says in a statement that it has now given approval to Shandong Airlines, Shenzhen Airlines and Sichuan Airlines for services as well from next month.

The three additional airlines are able to serve Taiwan under the terms of an expanded air services agreement that was negotiated between long-time rivals China and Taiwan earlier this month.

Regular non-stop flights were barred until earlier this year when an initial agreement was forged to allow up to six airlines from each side to operate up to 18 round-trip passenger services per week.

The expanded agreement allows more airlines to operate services, with an expanded total of 54 weekly round-trip passenger flights for carriers from each side. Eight Taiwanese airports are designated for services, as are 21 cities in China.

Under the CAAC's new allocation, Air China can operate 10 weekly passenger services, China Eastern 12, China Southern 10, Hainan Airlines five, Xiamen Airlines six and Shanghai Airlines five, while Shenzhen Airlines, Shandong Airlines and Sichuan Airlines can operate two each.

The new agreement also allows up to 30 cargo flights per month by airlines from each side and the CAAC has given these rights to Air China Cargo, China Eastern subsidiary China Cargo Airlines and China Southern's cargo unit.