IE 11 is not supported. For an optimal experience visit our site on another browser.

Taiwan, China see first direct flights since split

China used well-known pilots, special meals and extra security checks to ensure the first direct flights between the mainland and Taiwan in more than 50 years were a success, the China Daily reported  Monday.
Flight CA1087 of Air China takes off for Taipei from the Beijing Capital International Airport
An Air China flight takes off from Beijing Capitol International Airport Saturday bound for Taipei. Commercial flights from Taiwan and China completed the first non-stop flights in 55 years across the narrow strait dividing the arch-foes.China Newsphoto / Reuters
/ Source: Reuters

China used famous pilots, special food and extra security checks to ensure the first direct flights between the mainland and Taiwan in more than half a century were a success, the China Daily said on Monday.

The flights, which began on Saturday and will run through the Lunar New Year holiday, have raised hopes for warmer ties between China and Taiwan, foes since the Nationalists lost the Chinese civil war to Mao Zedong’s communists in 1949 and fled the mainland.

The first direct charter flight to leave Beijing was captained by Jin Yibin, who piloted former leader Jiang Zemin’s special plane.

The 37-year-old said extra safety checks were added and that Air China liaised with counterparts in Taiwan to collect route information and prepare navigation data to ensure a smooth flight.

Xiamen Airlines asked its flight attendants to speak Fujian dialect -- common in Taiwan -- and served special Taiwanese foods to make passengers feel welcome, the newspaper quoted Wu Rongnan, general manager of the airlines, as saying.

“This is a good beginning and we really hope the special charter flights over the Spring Festival holidays can turn into regular ones,” another pilot, Hao Jianhua, was quoted as saying.

Ties between the two sides have been frosty in light of what China sees as creeping moves toward independence from the island it claims as its own.

Most analysts said they expected tension to remain high despite the success of the first flights.