This month, China opened several new air routes, including a north-bound route up the Taiwan Strait. Earlier this month, a statement was released by the Civil Aviation Administration of China indicating that it was opening four new routes to reduce pressure on the current air traffic over the Taiwan airspace.
Taiwan says it was done without its agreement, contravening what the democratic government in Taipei has said was a 2015 deal to first discuss such flight paths.
On Tuesday, the Chinese carriers China Eastern Airlines and Xiamen Air announced that they had cancelled 176 flights meant to meet added demand during the holiday since they had yet to receive approval from Taiwan's Civil Aeronautics Administration.
Taiwan, which has served as home to twenty-three million people, is an island off the southern coast of China that has been governed independently from mainland China since 1949.
Taipei slammed the move as reckless and politically motivated, adding it could threaten the island's security and endanger flight safety.
President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) last month warned against what she called Beijing's "military expansion" - the increase in Chinese air and naval drills around Taiwan since she came to power in May 2016. Adding more flights over Chinese New Year has been a practice for years to facilitate Taiwanese returning home for the holidays.
The airline apologized to customers and said it was providing free refunds and rebooking for anyone booked on the now-cancelled flights.
China Eastern Airlines said passengers affected by the cancellations include businesspersons, tourists and students.
At a press conference yesterday, Taiwanese Transport Minister Hochen Tan said the government did not force the airlines to cancel their flights. Then direct flights were permitted, and they continue across the Taiwan Straits today.
Alternatively they could choose a Chinese airline or Taiwanese airline that had not been using the new routes, though the availability of tickets would be an issue.
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