The number of Chinese airports allowed to offer direct cargo services to Taiwan will increase from two to six under a new air transport accord between the two countries' civil aviation authorities.
The agreement announced this week also will expand the number of freighter flights between the countries from 28 to 48.
Cargo flights from China for several years have been allowed only from Shanghai and Guangzhou. The agreement taking effect this month will add Chongqing, Fujian, Nanjing and Xiamen to the list.
Cross-strait passenger flights are now possible from 33 Chinese airports, up from 31, with the addition of Shanghai's second airport, Hongqiao, and Shijiazhuang City in Hebei Province. Overall passenger flights, previously restricted to 270 a week, now increase to 370.
China Airlines of Taiwan and Hongqiao-headquartered China Eastern Airlines are to launch services between Taipei and Hongqiao on June 14.
Gradual air liberalization forms part of a new economic cooperation framework agreement between China and Taiwan. Speaking ahead of the agreement, Kung Ming-hsin, vice president of the Taipei-based Taiwan Institute of Economic Research, said increased dialogue and the easing of regulatory constraints set the foundations for a new era of cross-strait economic prosperity.
However, although improved direct air, sea and trade links were a positive start, Kung said the two administrations needed to do more to integrate with global transportation networks.
"Taiwan has long sought to become an Asia-Pacific hub for business and transportation, or even a global logistics center," he said.
Better access to the Chinese mainland would help achieve this goal, but Kung said the granting of first freedom (fly-over) rights and fifth freedom rights, allowing foreign carriers continue from Taiwan beyond China to onward destinations, would "greatly increase the importance of Taiwan as an air traffic hub in the region.”