Taipei's Eva Airways is to sign a code share agreement with China-owned Air Macau in Kaohsiung today to allow Taiwanese passengers 'semi-direct' services to China, an airline official says. It is the first known agreement of its kind struck between a Taiwanese and a Chinese-owned airline and is seen as yet another sign that direct flights between Taiwan and China are not far off. Eva's general manager for Macau and Hong Kong, Sam Yan, said Eva would stop flying from Kaohsiung to the Portuguese enclave under the agreement, and would instead sell seats on Air Macau's nine weekly flights and issue boarding passes as if they were their own. He said it would benefit the airline's passengers because Air Macau's 'same aircraft' services between Taiwan and China that began in December last year meant a short stop-over on flights to Beijing, Shanghai and Xiamen. Such services were previously banned under a Taiwanese law governing relations with the mainland, but it allowed for exceptions if it was in the 'national interest'. The only provision is that flight numbers are changed. Mr Yan said the agreement would be signed by both airlines in Kaohsiung today and the partnership was due to begin on August 1 pending approval from Chinese regulators. Air Macau is 51 per cent owned by state-controlled China National Aviation Corp - the commercial arm of the mainland's aviation regulator - and approval was not considered a problem. 'Air Macau will take care of the filing of the papers to the concerned parties,' Mr Yan said. 'We hope everything can run smoothly so we can get this case approved. 'Now we only have three flights a week and our frequency can change from three per week to daily. 'It is also good for our passengers because of the beyond flights to China with the same aircraft.' Mr Yan said the agreement made sense for Eva because the airline was flying many empty seats on the route, although it was picking up for the peak summer season. He said flights were between 70 and 75 per cent full this month. Air Macau market development executive Dominic Ching said final details of the arrangement were being worked out. 'They will buy some of our seats and we are negotiating now on the exact number [of seats] and the air fare,' he said. China recently granted approval to Eva and Hong Kong Dragon Airlines (Dragonair) to join Cathay Pacific Airways and Taiwan's China Airlines on the busy routes between the territory and Taiwan.