BEIJING, Jan. 16 (Xinhua) -- The Chinese mainland has approved 325 extra flights across the Taiwan Strait during the nation's traditional family-gathering Spring Festival, official figures revealed on Wednesday.
The mainland's civil aviation authority received 340 applications for extra flights from airline companies of both the mainland and Taiwan, said Yang Yi, spokesman for the State Council's Taiwan Affairs Office.
The civil aviation authority approved 224 of those extra flights, including four chartered flights, to be operated by six mainland airlines, and 101 of 110 applications by six airlines based in Taiwan were approved, according to Yang.
It is hoped that extra cross-Strait flights will help Chinese living and working on the other side to celebrate Chinese Lunar New Year with their family members.
The spokesman said the extra flights will shuttle between Taiwan and 22 mainland cities, including eight new destinations of Urumqi, Hohhot and Yinchuan in northwest and north China.
Extra flights for Spring Festival have been allowed since 2003. This year, the Lunar New Year starts on Feb. 10.
In 2012, cross-Strait direct flights increased from 558 to 616 every week, and the number of destinations open for such flights has reached 64, Yang said.
The spokesman also noted that cross-Strait trade and investment saw steady growth last year and reached 168.9 billion U.S. dollars, a year-on-year rise of 4.3 percent.
In the first 11 months last year, the mainland approved 1,988 investment projects from Taiwan, involving 2.56 billion U.S. dollars, an increase by 31.2 percent on a year-on-year basis.
In 2012, a total of 31 investment projects with the total sum of 694 million U.S. dollars were launched on the island, a tenfold increase compared with the previous year, he said.
The mainland also opened the market for rice and other farm products from Taiwan, Yang said.
Under the Economic Cooperation Framework Agreement, a wide-ranging cross-strait economic pact signed in 2010, the mainland has offered Taiwan exporters 3.09 billion yuan (491.83 million U.S. dollars) in tariff cuts, 3.2 times more than the previous year.
The mainland also saved 50.05 million U.S. dollars in tariffs exempted for its exports to the island, Yang said.
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