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Taiwan airlines have no immediate plans to run flights to Israel

2012/01/03 21:50:34

Taipei, Jan. 3 (CNA) Taiwanese airlines said Tuesday they have no immediate plans to open direct routes to Israel, as allowed under an aviation agreement signed between Taiwan and Israel the previous day.

"We have no such plans at the moment," said a public relations officer from the Evergreen Group that operates the international carrier Eva Air.

Another passenger and cargo carrier, China Airlines, said it will evaluate the possibility of adding Israel to its destinations.

"It is too early to say now because the agreement has just been signed," a China Airlines official told CNA. China Airlines does not offer direct flights to the Middle East region at the moment.

The accord, called the Air Transportation Agreement between the Taipei Economic and Cultural Office in Tel Aviv and the Israel Economic and Cultural Office in Taipei (ISECO), was signed Monday by representatives of both agencies.

Lin Jinn-jong, director-general of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) Department of West Asian Affairs, said the accord paves the way for collaboration between carriers and for more business opportunities in the air transportation industry.

Under the agreement, airlines will be able to negotiate various cooperation plans such as direct flights, interline connections and charter flights, Lin said.

These partnerships will help to boost trade, investment and tourism, he added. "This is an effort by the government to encourage more business partnerships in the private sector," Lin said.

Describing the pact as a milestone, Ophir Gore, director of the ISECO's Economic Affairs, said that both sides have been putting much effort into streamlining tourism and making travel easier for people.

Last year, Taiwan and Israel settled on a mutual visa exemption agreement, allowing Taiwanese visitors to enter the country without having to apply for a visa.

The new aviation agreement is expected to help cargo operators explore business partnerships, in light of the fact that Taiwan is Israel's fourth biggest importer in Asia, Gore said.

According to government statistics, trade between Taiwan and Israel totaled NT$28.1 billion (US $927.4 million) in the first eight months of 2011, up more than 17 percent year-on-year.

The number of travelers between Taiwan and Israel is about 7,000 per year, according to MOFA statistics.

(By Nancy Liu)