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More flights to North Korea on the way?

While the world focuses on the potential, shall we say, soft opening up of North Korea, it has been reported the DPK has submitted a request to open new international air routes with the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO).


Image Arthur Mebius


Since the application was made, sometime in March according to South Korean media outlet Dong-A Ilbo, authorities south of the border have begun reviewing the matter. 


"North Korea requested opening of air routes that enable it to travel to multiple regions," an ICAO official said in an interview with the paper, a request confirmed by South Korea’s Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport.


"We need cooperation from our member countries in the Asia-Pacific, European and the North Atlantic regions."


While the ICAO hasn’t revealed details on the air routes North Korea wants to open, the services would involve flying through South Korean airspace, a ministry official said.


This could potentially see it flying eastwards towards Japan or possibly south towards South East Asia, although given its current fleet of short and mid range Tupolev and Antonov jets, direct flights to Australia would almost certainly be out of the question.


According to The Straits Times, Dong-A Ilbo also reported that North Korea wants to open its flight information region (FIR) to South Korea, a move aviation experts say could help South Korean airlines save 16 billion won (around AU$20 million) a year in gas.


Currently, South Korean carriers have to detour around North Korea when flying to the United States or Russia, but passing through DPK airspace would save them 200-500kms in flight distance for services from Incheon to the US. 


Written by: Mark Harada
Published: 4 May 2018

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