In the wake of Koo Chen-fu's trip to China, the highest-ranking Taiwanese visit to China in 50 years, Taipei has eased direct flight restrictions another notch.

The first of many Air Macau charters from Ningbo, a Chinese port, flew to Taiwan via Macau under one flight number and without passengers disembarking and clearing Taiwan customs in Macau.

These changes are significant in view of Taiwan's continuing opposition to direct flights. When air service first opened between Macau and Taiwan, Taipei objected to Air Macau using the same aircraft on China and Taiwan sectors. But it relented when Macau agreed that all China-Taiwan passengers would be required to clear entry formalities in Macau.

Air Macau agreed to operate each sector with separate flight numbers. Later, Taipei allowed Dragonair the same procedure on China-Taiwan flights through Hong Kong. So long as passengers had to clear entry procedures and board another flight, even though it was the same aircraft, Taiwan could avoid the appearance of allowing "direct" flights with an intermediate stop. Taipei has now retreated on both points.

Since Taipei first allowed China-Taiwan flights via Macau or Hong Kong, it has relaxed its stance in several other ways. Air Macau, which is 100% Chinese-owned, has an office in Taiwan and China Airlines and EVA have offices in China. Taiwan carriers can check China-bound passengers through to their final destinations and assign seats and issue boarding passes on Chinese transfer flights.

Source: Airline Business