TAIPEI (CNA) — More than 440 Taiwanese nationals in Hubei have applied for priority bookings on two special flights contracted by the Taipei-based Straits Exchange Foundation (SEF) to bring home Taiwan citizens in the Chinese province, the Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) said Thursday.
At a daily news briefing in Taipei, CECC Deputy Commander Chen Tsung-yen (陳宗彥) said all Taiwanese who manage to get on the two flights on March 29 and 30 will be quarantined for 14 days on arrival in Taiwan.
Earlier in the day, the SEF said it had contracted one of Taiwan’s major carriers, China Airlines (CAL), to give priority on two flights to Taiwanese nationals stranded in Hubei.
However, Taiwanese in Hubei who wish to catch the flights will have to make their own way to Pudong International Airport in Shanghai, which is the usual point of departure for the regular CAL flights between that city and Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport, the SEF said.
The two specially contracted CAL flights will depart from Pudong airport at 7:50 p.m. March 29 and 30, the SEF said, after China on Thursday lifted its restrictions on outbound travel in Hubei, which had been under lockdown for several weeks due to the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic.
Wuhan, the capital of Hubei and the city where the pandemic started, will remain under lockdown until April 8, the Chinese government said.
Despite travel restrictions in both Taiwan and China due to the coronavirus pandemic, some direct flights between the two sides are still in operation, mainly those from Taiwan to Beijing, Shanghai, Chengdu and Xiamen.
On the question of whether Taiwan would arrange charter flights to bring home its remaining citizens in Hubei, Chen said that would depend on the outcome of negotiations between the two sides.
During Thursday’s briefing, CECC official Chuang Jen-hsiang (莊人祥), who is also deputy director of Taiwan’s Centers for Disease Control (CDC), said protective measures will be taken before the passengers board the two special CAL flights and upon their arrival at Taoyuan International Airport.
According to Deputy Transport Minister Wang Kwo-tsai (王國材), CAL will use its wide-body Boeing 777 aircraft, which has a capacity of 358 passengers, for the two flights.