Mainland does not need Taiwan's permission to open airspace
The Chinese mainland does not need Taiwan's permission to open new flight routes to help ease airspace congestion over the Taiwan Straits, an official said on Wednesday, after Taiwan demanded an immediate halt to the new routes.
Civilian planes heading north will be allowed to use M503－a route launched in 2015 only for southbound planes across the narrow Taiwan Straits－the Civil Aviation Administration of China announced on Jan 4.
The CAAC said the northbound route, along with three new connecting routes, was designed in a bid to relieve air traffic pressure along the southeast coastal area.
Taiwan authorities demanded an immediate stop to the new airlines launched close to the island, claiming that the launch was a "unilateral move" without the consultation of Taiwan and affects flight safety.
The route is along the mainland side of the Straits and does not affect Taiwan's flights, Ma Xiaoguang, spokesman for the Taiwan Affairs Office of the State Council, said on Wednesday at a news conference.
"The launch is a regular part of China's aviation management and is the internal affair of the mainland. It is not an 'unilateral' issue at all," Ma said.
Considering Taiwan's concerns, the Chinese mainland had communicated with Taiwan before the southbound route of M503 was opened in March, 2015, and promised it would tell Taiwan in the future when opening new routes, he said.
"However, it does not mean the launch needs Taiwan's permission," Ma said, "Even so, we had already informed Taiwan before we started using the northbound route. Taiwan's claim of the mainland's violation of consensus reached between the two sides in 2015 is totally unfounded."
Ma said the launch was to alleviate the air traffic pressure and guarantee plane safety, which is the common interest of people across the Straits and meets the air transport development needs in the Asia-Pacific region.
Along with the rapid increase of flights around the Yangtze River and the Pearl River deltas in south China, the average delay of flights from Hong Kong to Shanghai was 103 minutes last year, an increase of 5.1 percent over 2016. The average punctuality rate was only 46 percent last year.
The opening of the northbound route is set to help ease the pressure.
Ma said the opening of the northbound route and the connecting lines have allowed an average of 27 flights per day, which demonstrates the safety and reliability of the route.