Taiwan's obstruction of extra cross-Strait flights for Spring Festival is 'absurd'

Huang Panyue

The Taiwan Affairs Office of China's State Council slammed the obstruction of Taiwan authorities of additional cross-Strait flights for the Chinese New Year as "absurd".

"Taiwan authorities' absurd refusal brought inconvenience to tens of thousands of people," Ma Xiaoguang, the office's spokesperson said on Wednesday.

"(The cancellation) brought trouble for family reunions between the two sides (of the Taiwan Strait) during the Spring Festival, while also hurting their feelings. Taiwan authorities should take responsibilities for all the consequences."

China Eastern Airlines and Xiamen Airlines announced on Tuesday they were canceling a total of 176 additional flights between the Chinese mainland and the island region after the Taiwan civil aviation authority refused to give them the go-ahead.

The extra flights were meant to accommodate the travel rush during the Chinese New Year holiday, one of the most important festivals on China's cultural calendar during which people return to their hometowns to spend time with their family.

Taiwan has argued that the rejection was made out of security concerns over the south-to-north operation of M503 flight route, which opened on January 4 this year and faced strong opposition from Taiwan authorities.

Ma said the newly-opened route is totally "irrelevant" to the issue, not to mention that the safety of the already coded route has already been confirmed by experts.

"The accuracy, safety as well as reliability of the route's operation have all been approved by the International Civil Aviation Organization, thus there is absolutely no safety reasons that need to be addressed," Ma said.

Ma denounced Taiwan authorities' "inhumanity", saying the obstruction damaged the rights of people from the two sides, especially Taiwan residents' rights, to go back home and celebrate the holiday with their family, which went against the will of the people.

"Taiwan authorities have used the island's residents and businessmen as hostages to retaliate at the mainland aviation companies," Ma noted.

Approximately 50,000 passengers will be affected by the cancellation of the extra flights.


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