Tainan, Sept. 17 (CNA) Tainan launched charter flight services to Japan's Komatsu Saturday with an EVA Airways flight, one of Taiwan's leading international carriers, taking off in the morning and scheduled to arrive around noon.
This was the first time Tainan, in southern Taiwan, has provided direct flight services to Japan.
Located on the coast of the Sea of Japan, Komatsu is in Kanazawa of Ishikawa Prefecture, in the middle of Japan's Hokuriku region.
The flight to Komatsu carried a total of 152 passengers, including a delegation organized by Tainan City Government and Tainan City Council.
The delegation, led by Tainan Mayor Lai Ching-te and Tainan City Council Speaker Lai Mei-hui, will kick off a five-day trip to forge closer ties with Japan.
Speaking in a ceremony before the flight departed, Lai said the launch of the charter flight services to Komatsu was a historical moment for Tainan because it will boost the city's international visibility.
Lai said Tainan is seeking more international links to regain its status as the gateway to Taiwan like it used to be in the past.
During the trip, the Tainan City Council is expected to set up a tie as sister councils with its counterpart in Ishikawa, while the representatives from Tainan City Government will meet the business sector in Kanazawa and Osaka to tout the investment environment in the Taiwanese city in a bid to attract foreign investments.
Earlier this month, Tainan started charter flight services to Xiamen of China's Fujian Province, the first cross-strait air links for the southern city, after the local aviation authorities upgraded the Tainan Airport to an international airport.
Lai said although Tainan Airport has been upgraded into an international airport, it still lacks duty-free stores and baggage reclaim facilities.
The mayor asked the Ministry of Transportation and Communications for help to develop the airport, while the ministry promised to provide necessary assistance.
The EVA Air flight is scheduled to return to Tainan Saturday afternoon, carrying 36 tourists to the Taiwanese city.