Taipei - China Eastern Airlines opened a representative office in Taipei Friday, becoming the third Chinese airline to gain a foothold in the Taiwan market.
At the launch ceremony China Eastern chairman Liu Shaoyong said China Eastern wanted to expand its presence in Taiwan to better serve Taiwan and Chinese customers.
"We want to hire 20 to 30 local staff here this year and expand cooperation with Taiwan airlines, including exchanging air hostesses and launch code-share with the China Airlines," he said, referring to Taiwan's largest airline CAL.
"In recent years, the Singapore airport and Hong Kong airport, being regional hubs, have lured away many trans-shipment passengers. With the launch of cross-strait flights, we should make good use of our advantages," he said.
China Eastern is the third Chinese airlines to open a representative office in Taipei since January. China Southern Airlines opened its office in Taipei in January and Air China opened an office in March.
The Shanghai-based China Eastern has some 50,000 staff and 221 aircraft serving 467 domestic and international routes.
Currently it operates 12 charter flights per week across the Taiwan Strait.
Taiwan, after having banned air links with China for six decades, launched weekend charter flights and allowing Chinese tour groups to enter Taiwan in July 2008 and regular charter flights in December.
The two sides plan to launch regular flights later this year.
The lack of diplomatic ties - it is recognized by only 23 countries - has hurt Taiwan, making it difficult for the island to sign air pacts on the one hand, and causing foreign airlines to neglect Taiwan on the other.
Taiwan's air network with Asia, Europe and the US is not extensive, and it has no direct air links with Africa and Latin America. (dpa)
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