Putting a local accent on cross-Straits travel

Putting a local accent on cross-Straits travel
Spring Airlines is a low-cost airline based in Shanghai, China. It is the first low-cost airline in China.

From Thursday, travelers who fly with Spring Airlines Ltd may be surprised at the Taiwan accents of the flight attendants, after the publicly traded carrier recruited a batch of 24 crew members from the island.

The flight attendants, two men and 22 women, will serve passengers on the Shanghai-based carrier's more-than 90 flights between Taiwan and Shanghai and other cities on the Chinese mainland.

"Passengers from Taiwan should feel at home when they hear us speaking in their own dialect, and I would love to recommend scenic spots and good snack shops in Taiwan to people from the mainland,"said 34-year-old Hsu Shao-Ping.

"Taiwan is too small, and I think this job will offer great opportunities for travel,"said the TV reporter turned flight attendant. She visited the Shanghai Expo five years ago, and was deeply impressed by the city.

Hsu and her colleague Wang Chun-I will be the first of the crew from Taiwan to fly with the airline, when they depart from Shanghai Pudong International Airport on Thursday headed for Taipei's Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport. The other attendants will either begin work later on the same day or shortly afterward.

It will be Li Jui's first job. Li, who hails from Miaoli county in the northwest of Taiwan, graduated from a university in Taipei.

"Compared with Taipei, Shanghai is a much bigger city with a faster speed of life,"said the 23-year-old, who was excited about making her first flight for the company, from Shanghai to Zhanjiang, Guangdong province on Thursday.

When Spring Airlines launched a recruitment drive in Taiwan in October, it received nearly 1,000 applicants, according to Xiao Fei, an HR manager from China's first low-cost carrier.

The 24 new attendants will join the company's 1,100-strong team of flight attendants after they've completed four flights as interns.

For many 0f the new recruits, their training period at the airline was their first taste of the Chinese mainland, which will foster a deeper understanding of the mainland among them.

In a recent cross-Straits forum, Yu Zhengsheng, chairman of the National Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference, called for better conditions for young people living, studying, working, or starting businesses on the other side of the Straits.

Yu was speaking at the 10th Cross-Straits Economic, Trade and Culture Forum in Shanghai on Sunday, a regular event between the mainland and Taiwan.

"It is hoped the smiles and high quality of service provided by the new flight attendants will provide a better travelling experience for passengers from Taiwan,"Xiao said.

A growing number of airlines are choosing to employ local attendants to provide a localized service, and the high frequency of flights between Taiwan and mainland cities, especially Shanghai, has led to the recruitment of the new staff from Taiwan.

Trade and communications between the mainland and Taiwan have grown rapidly during the past decade, and by the end of March, entrepreneurs from Taiwan had invested a total of 61.6 billion in the mainland.

Increased cross-Straits interaction has created a huge demand for direct flights. Last year there were 9.41 million trips between the Chinese mainland and Taiwan, with visitors from the mainland accounting for 4 million of them.

In October 2013, Spring Airlines became the first privately owned carrier to operate direct flights between the mainland and Taiwan.


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