Air China president Li Jiaxiang says preparations are under way for the resumption of direct flights to Taiwan. Mr Li said Air China vice-president Ma Xulun had visited Taiwan to work out details, such as choosing airports and holding discussions with Taiwan airlines. He said the mainland authorities and Air China had yet to decide which airports were suitable. Mr Li's remarks followed an article carried by the China Daily quoting officials as saying Beijing was likely to approve direct chartered flights across the strait as early as next year. However, Mr Li said yesterday that Beijing was still waiting for a response. 'We have everything ready for the yacht and we are waiting for the wind - and the wind has to come from the east [Taiwan is located east of the mainland],' Mr Li said, using a common Chinese idiom. Despite Mr Li's report of talks in Taiwan, major stumbling blocks remain. Beijing refuses to conduct government-to-government negotiations and Taipei has insisted on official contacts. Taiwan's government has been giving a cold shoulder to recent mainland proposals for resumed talks between private businesses. In his report to the 16th party congress, President Jiang Zemin urged both sides to speed up the establishment of direct transport links. Analysts believe the aviation industry in Hong Kong will suffer a setback if direct flights are launched, as most Taiwan travellers now use Hong Kong as a transfer point.