January 29, 2005 – First direct commercial flights from mainland China to Taiwan since 1949 arrived in Taipei

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China Southern Airlines Boeing 777

777 GUN China Southern Delivery Event NEF14-1898 Knumber:K66074 CLAMPITT CATHLEEN J rms260479 cnsNEF

On January 29, 2005, the first direct commercial flights from mainland China left Guangzhou for Taiwan. The first flights landed in Taipei.

They were the first flights since the Communist government took control of mainland China in 1949, and the nationalist government fled to Taiwan.

Shortly after this first flight, a China Airlines flight landed in Beijing.

From the China Daily, January 31, 2005:

GUANGZHOU: China Southern Airlines CZ3097 made history on Saturday by becoming the first mainland commercial jet to land in Taiwan in more than half a century.

The Boeing 777 with 242 passengers aboard – all of whom were Taiwan business people and their families – took off from the new Guangzhou Baiyun International Airport at 8:05 am and touched down at the Taipei airport at 9:27 am.

The same plane, with 112 passengers aboard, turned around and took off at 12:57 pm from Taipei airport for Guangzhou at 2:26 pm the same day, January 29.

“We made history,” said Hao Jianhua, the chief pilot of the flight, in an interview.

He said the red-carpet welcome and the civility of his Taiwanese counterparts impressed him greatly.

When the China Southern pilot asked for landing permission in Taipei, he was told that two Taiwan aircraft were ahead in the holding pattern and were due to land first.

But before the China Southern pilot could affirm his holding position, he was then told by the Taipei control tower the pilots on the pair of Taiwan aircraft said they could wait and urged the mainland aircraft to land first.

This gesture to acknowledge the significance of the flight increased the excitement on board.

Dozens of the passengers were from Dongguan in the booming Pearl River Delta where a large number of Taiwan-invested enterprises do business.

In their costumes specially tailored for the occasion, the 73 passengers took the maiden flight.

Passenger Lin Suzhen said she was too excited and could not sleep the previous night. She was “really moved” by the “VIP” service.

China Southern Airlines had selected veteran pilots for the charter flights,

The stewardesses were also very carefully picked for the task of flying into history. Each spoke Taiwan dialect as well as putonghua (standard spoken Chinese) and English.

Passenger Lin said the non-stop flight is more economical and time-saving.

The cheapest ticket for the non-stop flight from Guangzhou to Taipei costs 800 yuan (US$96) and it takes only about 90 minutes to complete the journey.

“Normally it takes at least half a day to fly to Taiwan, stopping over in Hong Kong or Macao, and the cost is three or four times as much,” said Lin

She said her New Year wish was for the flights to continue full-time so as to benefit the people from both destinations.

Stewardess Li Xiaoming said the non-stop charter flight makes it much more convenient especially for elderly passengers.

She said an 87-year-old man and a 78-year-old woman were aboard the flight.

They had not been back to Taiwan for four years because of the hassle of stopovers in Hong Kong or Macao.

There are 18,600 Taiwanese businesses in Guangdong Province and about 2,500 Taiwan students in the province, official statistics indicate.

Tony Simon

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