HONG KONG AND Taiwan have reached a tentative agreement on a new commercial air accord, extending beyond the UK colony's 1997 hand over date to Chinese rule.

The five-year deal clears the way for a second carrier from each side to operate on the highly lucrative trunk routes between Hong Kong and Taiwan.

Cathay Pacific Airways and Taiwan's Taipei Airlines Association (TAA) had previously agreed in principle to add two more carriers, but at the time could not agree on the number of extra frequencies.

Under the accord, a yet-to-be designated second Taiwanese airline - either EVA Air or TransAsia - will be allowed 16 passenger flights a week between Hong Kong and Taipei - 15 fewer than was originally demanded.

China Airlines (CAL) will retain its existing 105 weekly passenger frequencies.

Source: Flight International