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EVA to serve more Chinese cities

Taiwan's EVA Air is evaluating several new cities in China for passenger and cargo services following a recent agreement that allows for many more new flights.

Executive VP Solomon Lin said at the Association of Asia Pacific Airlines' annual gathering of CEOs in Taipei that cities under consideration include Chengdu, Chongqing, Dalian, Hangzhou and Qingdao.

EVA and subsidiary UNI Air currently only operate eight weekly flights to three Chinese cities, namely Beijing, Guangzhou and Shanghai, under an agreement that was reached earlier this year.

"There definitely will be more destinations to be served," says Lin.

An expanded agreement reached earlier this month allows for many more services by airlines from each side, covering 21 Chinese cities, up from the previous five.

EVA and UNI have since then been awarded rights to operate 23 weekly passenger services to China from the middle of next month and Lin says this will help "give us a cushion in a negative operating environment".

The new agreement also allows for the first cargo services between Taiwan and China and Lin says these will start next month.

He says codesharing on freighter flights is also allowed and partnership talks will be held with Chinese carriers. EVA is already a shareholder in Shanghai Airlines' dedicated cargo subsidiary.

Regular flights between Taiwan and China had until earlier this year been banned since 1949, when the two sides split following a civil war, forcing passengers to make transit stops in third points, normally Hong Kong or Macau.

The number of Taiwanese visitors to China currently far outweighs the number of Chinese visitors to Taiwan. Lin says this will change, however, and the number of Chinese visitors to Taiwan will grow "three or four times".

Lin says the carrier should have enough capacity for the new flights with the aircraft that it already has and with those on order, but more aircraft may be needed in future for additional China services.

"That is still under study," he says of fleet expansion plans.

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