China Eastern, XiamenAir Cancel Some Taiwan Flights

January 30, 2018

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China Eastern Airlines and XiamenAir have cancelled 176 Taiwan flights scheduled for the Lunar New Year Spring Festival holiday period.

The airlines added the flights to allow mainland-based Taiwanese to travel home for the festival, but the Taipei government has not authorised the extra flights, citing safety concerns.

Taipei has objected to China’s use of an air route, designated M503, which is only 5 miles from the central line of the Taiwan Strait, dividing the island from the mainland. The route runs close to restricted airspace on Taiwan’s side of the Strait.

Chinese airlines started using the route for south-bound flights in 2015, halting its use a few months later, but on January 4 this year China started north-bound flights on it.

Taipei objected to China’s “unilateral actions” and increased military exercises which it says are “destabilising and should be avoided”.

The political impasse is unlikely to be resolved in time for the February 16 New Year which starts the Year of the Dog. Taiwan observes a four day public holiday around Lunar New Year.