Chinese New Year travelers affected by China, Taiwan airline rows
AROUND 50,000 passengers using China Eastern Airlines and Xiamen Airlines may face canceled journeys over the Lunar New Year Festival as tensions between the Chinese and Taiwanese government continue to build.
Each airline has begun selling return tickets for the extra 176 flights they added to their schedule to meet the demands of travelers wanting to get away over Chinese New Year. The airline went ahead and sold the tickets after an agreement was met with Taiwan, according to media reports.
This, however, is in dispute as Taiwanese officials are contesting that an agreement was ever reached.
Taiwan claims to have never been consulted over the new flight routes China Eastern and Xiamen Airlines were planning to use and have accused Beijing of “unilateral” action.
“The unreasonable obstruction … has seriously infringed upon the common interests of our company and customers, and severely violated the humanitarian needs of thousands of passengers and their families,” the airline said in a statement.
The routes intended to ease air congestions over the Taiwan Strait, which is the strip that separates the island from Mainland China. Yet, Taiwan has claimed the intended congestion solution is actually a safety risk as the routes would mean aircraft flying close to airports that are under Taiwan’s control.
Chinese New Year is the single most important festival for those in Taiwan and China as reunion and togetherness are the main themes of the event. Family, friends, and travelers would make the journey to either places to celebrate the occasion and the effects of the festivities can be felt long before and after the actual festival dates.
China Eastern is reportedly offering refunds to those affected by this dispute and although passengers are invited to rebook on other routes, this time of year means available seats are slim pickings.