Taipei, Legislators Wednesday urged the government to take all necessary measures to ensure China-based Taiwan nationals are able to return home for the Lunar New Year holiday after two Chinese airlines withdrew requests for extra cross-strait flights over the Feb. 15-20 holiday.
China Eastern Airlines and Xiamen Airlines announced Tuesday they have canceled 176 flights intended to meet additional demand during the holiday as they had yet to receive approval from Taiwan's Civil Aeronautics Administration (CAA).
The CAA denied requests from the two Chinese airlines for additional flights to Taiwan that would have used the northbound M503 flight route, as well as the W121, W122 and W123 extension routes, in protest at China's unilateral decision to launch the routes without first negotiating with Taiwan.
Taiwan's government objected to the opening of the northbound M503 route close to the median line of the Taiwan Strait for aviation safety and national security concerns.
The Mainland Affairs Council, Taiwan's top agency for dealing with China, said in a statement issued late Tuesday that the ball is firmly in China's court, while calling on aviation authorities in Beijing and Taipei to immediately start technical negotiations to settle relevant issues and ensure aviation safety for passengers.
Ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) legislative caucus whip, Ho Hsin-chun (???), said Wednesday that getting Taiwanese businessmen home, regardless of what type of transport is used, is the government's responsibility and it is doing everything it can.
Taiwan's government had to express its solemn stance over China's unilateral decision on the opening of the flight routes, Ho added.
Opposition Kuomintang legislative caucus whip Lee Yen-hsiu (???) said that faced with China's tough stance, the government should seek opportunities to engage in negotiations and consultations with Beijing and not compromise the rights of Taiwanese businessmen.
Meanwhile, China's Taiwan Affairs Office spokesman Ma Xiaoguang (???) said that China's aviation authorities and airlines are planning other measures to help Taiwan compatriots return home for the holiday.
For instance, Fujian provincial government will increase direct transport services between Pingtan in the province and Taiwan during the holiday, including ferries and cruise ships, Ma added.
Source: Fucus Taiwan