|Taipei, Shanghai inaugurate new air route, shortening cross-Strait travel|
TAIPEI, June 14 (Xinhua) -- A passenger flight took off from Taipei's Songshan airport and arrived at Shanghai's Hongqiao airport Monday morning, inaugurating a new cross-Strait air route.
The new direct flight route will shorten the travel time between Taipei and Shanghai as the two airports are both centrally located.
The two cities already operate direct flights between their two larger international terminals - Taoyuan Airport in Taipei and Pudong Airport in Shanghai.
Although flight time between Songshan and Hongqiao is 90 minutes, the same as the Taoyuan-Pudong route, passengers will spend less time commuting as both airports are close to downtown.
"If I took the Taoyuan-Pudong flight, I would spend three to four hours in commuting," said Hsu Cheng-lung, a Taiwan businessman on board Monday morning's flight operated by Taiwan-based China Airlines. Owning a factory in Kunshan near Shanghai, Hsu travels between Taipei and Shanghai three to four times a month.
It takes about one hour by car from Taoyuan to downtown Taipei while Songshan airport is about a 20-minute ride. Hongqiao Airport is about 13 km from downtown Shanghai while Pudong is 40 km from the city center.
"For a business traveler, time is the most important thing. And tourists can pay less for a taxi," Hsu said. "I am looking forward to having breakfast at home, lunch in Shanghai, and then dinner at home again."
Also Monday morning, another passenger flight, operated by mainland-based China Eastern Airlines, left Shanghai Hongqiao Airport for Taipei's Songshan at 11 a.m..
According to Taiwan aviation authorities, there will be 28 flights per week between the two terminals, half operated by Taiwan airlines and half by mainland airlines.
After infrastructure at Songshan airport is upgraded, there may be more flights between the two terminals, said Li Lung-wen, head of the Taiwan aviation department.
Among the flight's passengers was a delegation of local officials and legislators, including Taipei Mayor Hau Lung-bin.
"Through more direct flights with Shanghai, we are looking forward to more companies setting up offices in Taipei. And the city will be richer and better for it," he said.
Flights will also begin between Songshan Airport and Tokyo's Haneda Airport in October, Hau said, adding that discussions on flights to Seoul's Gimpo Airport are also underway.
Shanghai Hongqiao Airport already has flights to Haneda and Gimpo airports. Like Hongqiao and Songshan, Haneda and Gimpo are centrally located and mainly used for domestic flights.
"If the four cities can be linked by shorter and easier flights, it will no doubt have a positive impact on business, trade, cultural and personnel exchanges," Hau said.
Thanks to the new route, cross-Strait travel will be easier and more comfortable, which will attract more mainland tourists to Taipei, said Tsai Chin-lung, a local legislator also on the first flight.
"We hope the people from the two cities will become more familiar with each other with the new flight route, strengthening cross-Strait ties. It will also boost East Asia's development if Taipei, Shanghai, Tokyo and Seoul are closer."