Some 50,000 passengers are expected to be affected by the cancellation of flights between China and Taiwan in the Lunar New Year period amid escalating tensions between the two governments.
China Eastern Airlines and Xiamen Airlines had started selling tickets for the 176 round-trip flights, added to meet the increased travel demand during Chinese New Year, sans agreement from Taiwan, according to media reports.
The airlines said Taiwan’s refusal to approve the new routes leaves them no choice but to cancel all 176 flights, a claim contested by Taiwanese officials. China’s launch of the new flights reportedly goes against a deal between Taiwan and China to first discuss certain flight paths before they come into operation.
Among the disputed routes China opened to Taiwan this month is M503, a northbound route up the Taiwan Strait, which skirts air space used for Taiwanese military exercises, Singapore’s Straits Times reports.
According to the same Straits Times report, China Eastern is offering refunds and rebookings to the 40,000 passengers on its 106 cancelled flights. Xiamen Airlines has said it will do the same for its 10,000 passengers affected by the cancellation of its 70 added flights.