by Donald Wood
Last updated: 3:19 PM ET, Tue January 30, 2018
A battle between two Chinese airlines and the Taiwanese government has forced the cancellation of hundreds of flights during the busy Lunar New Year.
According to Reuters.com, China Eastern Airlines and Xiamen Airlines revealed Thursday issues between Beijing and Taiwan over flight routes forced the carriers to cancel the holiday trips after the Taiwanese government refused to approve the journeys.
Earlier in January, the Chinese government began operating new routes along the Taiwan Strait, which officials in Taiwan said were done without its consent. As a result, the Taiwanese government withheld approval of route applications from the Chinese airlines.
Officials from Taiwan have voiced their concern that the new routes are too close to existing routes and could become a threat to flight safety, but the Chinese government denies there are any safety issues.
After issuing an apology to impacted customers and providing refunds for passengers booked on Lunar New Year flights, a China Eastern spokesperson issued a statement on behalf of the airline about Taiwan's decision.
"We express our strong dissatisfaction and condemnation of the Taiwan authorities, who disregard public opinion and cling obstinately to their course," the airline told Reuters.
While China's civil aviation administration also came out strongly against the decision made by the Taiwanese government, Taiwan's transportation minister Ho Chen Tan said the decision to cancel flights was the decision of the Chinese airlines.
"We never said that we wouldn't approve of the added flights by China Eastern or Xiamen Airlines," Ho told Reuters. "All along we said we hope that the situation can meet the needs of travelers and that we can all discuss an appropriate arrangement for the added flights.
"At this time, they said themselves they don't want to apply. It's not at all that we said we didn't agree for them to apply," Ho continued.
Travelers will still have ways to get between China and Taiwan, as tourists and locals can fly through Hong Kong or Macau, as well as taking ferries between destinations.
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