Air traffic around Taiwan returns to normal despite new Chinese drills

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Air traffic around Taiwan is gradually returning to normal after the airspace surrounding the island reopened, Taiwan’s Ministry of Transport and Communications said on Monday, although China later announced new military exercises in the region.

Last week, China deployed dozens of aircraft and fired live missiles at close range in military exercises sparked by a visit to Taiwan by US House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

The drills led some airlines to cancel flights to Taipei and change flight paths between Southeast Asia and Northeast Asia to avoid the affected area.

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Notices to Airmen (NOTAMs) issued by Beijing had declared temporary danger zones that airlines should avoid during drills that encircled much of Taiwan. The final NOTAM covering a section of airspace to the east of the island expired at 02:00 GMT on Monday and has not been extended.

The Chinese military announced new drills in the seas and airspace around Taiwan on Monday, but no specific locations were provided, no new NOTAMs were issued, and there were no signs on the FlightRadar24 flight tracking service of airlines adjusting routes.

Taiwan’s transport ministry said earlier that most scheduled flights to and from the island continued to operate during the Chinese military exercises which began on August 4, with an average of around 150 departures and arrivals per day.

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The number of flights passing through the airspace managed by its controllers is gradually returning to normal after the final NOTAM is lifted, the ministry added in a statement posted on its website.

Some foreign airlines that typically used the airspace had instead taken alternate routes through areas operated by Japan and the Philippines during the drills, the ministry said last week.

Korean Air Lines Co Ltd, which had canceled flights to Taipei on Friday and Saturday and diverted others to avoid the affected area, said on Monday it had resumed normal flight operations.

Philippine Airlines said it would return flights to and from Taipei to their normal routes after using alternate flight paths over the past four days of exercises.

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There was no immediate response from airlines after the new Chinese announcement.

Temporary airspace closures and route changes during major military exercises occur regularly around the world.

This situation was unusual in that China’s drills bisect the territorial waters claimed by Taiwan, which Taiwan officials say challenges the international order and amounts to imposing a blockade of its sea and land. airspace. (Reporting by Jamie Freed in Sydney and Donny Kwok in Hong Kong; Additional reporting by Ben Blanchard in London, Heekyong Yang in Seoul and Neil Jerome Morales in Manila; Editing by Raju Gopalakrishnan)



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