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Business mediation proposed as answer to M503 flight route dispute

2018/02/21 19:13:32

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Taipei, Feb. 21 (CNA) A China-based Taiwanese businessman proposed in Taipei on Wednesday that the government should seek the assistance of Taiwanese businessmen operating in the mainland to resolve the controversy over China's activation of northbound flight route M503 and three extension routes.

Chang Han-wen (張漢文), founding chairman of the Association of Taiwan Investment Enterprises on the Mainland, said during a Lunar New Year gathering of more than 200 China-based business people that the cancellation of additional cross-strait flights during the Lunar New Year holiday by Chinese airlines greatly impacted senior executives of Taiwanese businesses in China.

Some were unable to return to Taiwan for the holiday, according to Chang.

Chang expressed hope that Taiwan and China will be able to reach a compromise on the issue through the mediation of China-based Taiwanese businessmen.

Meanwhile, Lee Jung-fu (李榮福), honorary chairman of a Taiwanese Business Association in Zhangzhou, told reporters that Taiwan has made its position clear on the matter and enterprises should support it.

After the controversy occurred, Lee said his company came up with countermeasures to deal with the cancellation of additional cross-strait flights. For example, executives at the company have been allowed to take leave in three blocks -- before and during the Lunar New Year holiday and at Lantern Festival. As a result, the cancellation did not have a major impact on the firm.

China Eastern Airlines and Xiamen Airlines announced on Jan. 30 that they had been "forced" to cancel 176 planned extra flights for the expected increase in demand because of delays in the approval process from Taiwan's Civil Aeronautics Administration.

Also Wednesday, Chang Hsiao-yueh (張小月), head of the Mainland Affairs Council (MAC), Taiwan's top agency in charge of China policy, said that after reviewing national security and aviation safety, the government had no choice but to deny requests from the two Chinese airlines, because the additional flights to Taiwan would have used the north-south M503 flight route that comes close to the median line of the Taiwan strait, as well as the W121, W122 and W123 extension routes.

Noting there are existing channels of communication, Chang called on China to start technical discussions on the matter with Taiwan as soon as possible.

(By Miao Zong-han and Evelyn Kao)
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