China to delay controversial flight route: CAA

China to delay controversial flight route: CAA

TAIPEI, Taiwan - In a joint press conference with the Mainland Affairs Council (MAC), the Civil Aeronautics Administration (CAA) announced yesterday that they have reached a preliminary agreement with mainland China to delay the implementation of flight path M503 that was originally scheduled to start on March 5.

East-west flight paths W121, W122 and W123 that were also proposed by China and slated to start operating on March 5 "will not be enabled at this stage," the CAA said.

On Jan. 12, China unilaterally announced four new flight paths.

China's announcement was met with opposition in Taiwan, with fears that China's additional flight routes would pose safety concerns for already established aviation paths in Taiwan.

The Ministry of Transportation and Communications (MOTC) said that they were concerned about aviation safety that could occur for flights W6, W8 and W2 that run between Taiwan and the Kinmen as well as Matsu area if flights W121, W122 and W123 were added.

Peaceful Development

In a press release from China's Taiwan Affairs Office (TAO) yesterday, the agency said China has thoroughly explained all of M503's related circumstances to Taiwanese officials.

The implementation of flight route M503 "is an economic development that is needed," said TAO.

The TAO also said that the "safe flight route will bring convenience to travelers" and is a "beneficial route to aid in the steady and peaceful relationship across the Taiwan Strait."

TAO hopes that both China and Taiwan's civil aeronautics administration are able to work together on new flight paths to increase the benefits for citizens.

Spectrum of Opinions

China's decision to delay the start of M503's flight path shows that there currently are no communication obstacles between Taiwan and China, said Cabinet spokesman Sun Lih-chyun.

Rational communication and interaction with China produces favourable results, said Sun.

Premier Mao Chi-kuo wants to thank the MOTC, MAC and all of the officials that tackled the task of negotiating the flight paths with China, said Sun.

According to a member of the Presidential Office, they reluctantly accept the negotiation's results despite being dissatisfied with the result.

The President applauds MAC and the MOTC for the amount of work they have devoted into discussing and negotiating over China's proposed flight paths, the Presidential Office said.

Sharing the same dissatisfied sentiment about the result of M503's flight path delay, Kuomintang (KMT) Legislator Lo Shu-lei said "although there is improvement, work still needs to be done to fight for the cancellation of M503."

The Ministry of National Defence responded by saying that they will be consistent with protecting Taiwan's airspace in order to safeguard national security.

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