BEIJING, Jan. 21 (Xinhua) -- The Taiwan aviation authority's blocking of extra cross-Strait flights for the upcoming Spring Festival has revealed the true nature of the administration.
Just one month ahead of Spring Festival, the most important family gathering festival in China, the island's aviation authority has decided not to approve 176 additional cross-Strait flights operated by China Eastern Airlines and Xiamen Airlines.
The decision is expected to make it difficult for around 50,000 people to return home during the holiday period although additional cross-Strait flights for the festival have been a regular practice since 2008 when direct flights between the two sides began.
A Taiwanese man surnamed Chan, who has worked in Shanghai for several years, said he had already booked a ticket on one of the additional China Eastern Airlines flights for the Spring Festival and now can only hope to find an alternative.
"During the peak travel season across the Taiwan Strait, it is very difficult to find a ticket on a flight at a similar time," he said.
A Taiwan businessman surnamed Lin, who runs a hotel in Shanghai, said many of his Taiwanese friends on the mainland have changed their travel plans and decided to return home earlier than originally planned.
"However, the changes greatly affect their work and life," Lin said.
The Taiwan aviation authority cited concerns over the south to north operation of the M503 air route, which began operation on Jan. 4 this year, as its reason for the the decision, but the Chinese mainland has said there are no safety concerns involved.
The south to north operation of the M503 flight route is located close to the mainland in the Taiwan Strait and in the Shanghai Flight Information Region, according to the Taiwan Affairs Office of the State Council.
"It involves no Taiwan flight route or destination and will not affect Taiwan flight safety," Ma Xiaoguang, spokesperson for the office, said Wednesday at a press conference.
The south to north operation of the M503 air route was aimed to ease traffic congestion amid growing flights over the Yangtze River Delta and the Pearl River Delta, Ma said.
The north to south operation of the M503 flight route started in March 2015 and has run smoothly. Most airlines from Hong Kong, Macao, and Southeast Asia fly via this route.
Media in Taiwan said the administration has sacrificed the interests of Taiwanese on the mainland because it believes they may not necessarily return to vote in Taiwan during elections and that even if they do, they most likely will not vote for the Democratic Progressive Party, which currently administers Taiwan.
Wang Kunyi, a scholar of cross-Strait relations, said the move is very short-sighted. "It not only damages the interests of Taiwanese people, but also severely undermines cross-Strait relations."