Taiwanese in mainland China may have to fly home for Spring Festival in military planes
Nearly 200 flights to Taiwan from the mainland have been cancelled amid yet another cross-strait dispute
A cross-strait fight over flights may spell trouble for the holiday plans of those Taiwanese working in mainland China who want to return home for the Chinese New Year.
Taiwan has refused to grant permission for 176 additional cross-straight flights that were proposed by China Eastern Airlines and Xiamen Air in order to meet increased demand over the Spring Festival holiday period. That moves comes in retaliation to air routes that were recently created by Beijing without Taipei’s consultation or permission which fly close to the island.
In particular, one flight flies just 7.8 kilometers from the line in the middle of the Taiwan Strait dividing Taiwan from the mainland. Taipei has said that the flight poses a threat to its security, reducing the amount of time that the Taiwanese air force has to respond to an attack from the mainland.
On Tuesday, China Eastern Airlines announced that it had been forced to cancel 106 round-trip flights to Taiwan due to Taiwanese authorities’ reluctance to approve the routes. Xiamen Air also released a statement announcing that its additional 70 flights had been cancelled as well.
According to Reuters, there are an estimated 50,000 Taiwanese working in the mainland who hope to return back home for next month’s Lunar New Year holiday.
Chen Chin-sheng, the director general of Taiwan’s navigation and aviation department, has advised those looking to return to the island to book flights to Hong Kong or Macau and then fly to Taiwan from those cities.
In the worst case scenario, Chen says that Taipei is ready to dispatch military transport planes to the Taiwan-controlled island of Quemoy (Kinmen) in the strait which can be reached by boat from Xiamen. He estimates that planes will be able to pick up 840 passengers a day from Quemoy and take them to Taiwan proper.