China-Taiwan M503 Airway Dispute

By David Mumford


China has cancelled all concessions previously made to Taiwan regarding the M503 airway that runs along the ZSHA/Shanghai and RCAA/Taipei FIR boundary.

What does this mean in practice?

  • China have moved the airway 6nm back towards the FIR boundary.
  • They have started allowing eastbound flights on the the W122 and W123 connecting routes.

So now, of all these routes, the only one that is not bi-directional is W121 (westbound only).

Taiwan aren’t happy, same argument as before: they say the airway is too close to existing routes that serve airports in outlying groups of Taiwan-controlled islands, and thus poses a risk to safety. China have ignored them.

Can I use M503?

China only allow airway M503 to be used under certain conditions:

  1. Aircraft must be RNAV2 capable.
  2. The flight must be going between VHHH/Hong Kong or VMMC/Macau and certain Chinese airports: ZSPD/Shanghai Pudong, ZSQD/Qingdao, ZSYT/Yantai, ZYTL/Dalian.

Everything else transiting east-west across this region will need to use the congested parallel A470 airway along the southeastern coast of mainland China.


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