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Hongqiao key in Taiwan flights

TAIWAN authorities expect an increase in flights to Shanghai, and the Hongqiao International Airport's soon-to-be-completed expansion project will provide an effective platform to make that happen, Chiang Pin-kung, chairman of the Taiwan-based Strait Exchange Foundation, said yesterday in Shanghai.

The Chinese mainland and Taiwan signed new agreements in Nanjing on Sunday to start regular flights, boost cooperation in finance and crack down on crime.

The new deals called for the launch of regular passenger and cargo flights across the Taiwan Strait. Previously, direct flight services were provided only on weekends and during major traditional festivals. The number of flights will increase to 270 a week from the current 108.

Taiwan is looking forward to launching more direct flights between Taipei and Shanghai after further negotiations with the mainland, reflecting the deeply rooted Taiwan business investment in Shanghai and neighboring cities, Chiang told Shanghai Mayor Han Zheng.

Taiwan expects that when the Hongqiao International Airport's expansion project is completed early next year, its improved air capacity will not only create a good platform to support more flights between Shanghai and Taiwan but also boost economic links between Taiwan and Suzhou and Kunshan, two cities in neighboring Jiangsu Province. Taiwan investors are also heavily involved in businesses in the two cities.

The under-construction Hongqiao Integrated Transport Hub, connected with the future new terminal at the airport, will service high-speed railway links to industrial cities in Jiangsu. The Hongqiao airport will have a new runway and terminal when the expansion project is finished before the Shanghai World Expo next year.

Tickets for direct flights between Taipei and Shanghai have become extremely popular among Taiwanese, prompting an urgent demand for more services, according to Chiang.

He told Han that as the middle of this month, 7,000 tours comprising 200,000 mainland travelers had visited Taiwan. The tourists had made significant economic contributions to Taiwan during the economic downturn, he said.


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