North Korean state airline Air Koryo’s twice-weekly shuttle service between Pyongyang Sunan International Airport and China’s Dandong International Airport has been suspended, an official told NK News on Friday.
Dandong International Airport confirmed the development in a call with NK News, stating that Air Koryo would no longer be operating out of the airport and there would be no more flights on the route.
But while the airports’ spokesperson wouldn’t confirm the reason for the suspension, other sources suggested it was either linked to government or the result of financial issues.
“China is stopping it: it’s a Chinese government decision,” one informed travel source explained, who requested anonymity due to the sensitivity of speaking to media.
“This would relate back to the sanctions the Chinese are enforcing a lot on Air Koryo, where they’re restricting the amount of times (the airline) fly between the same route in one day.”
Last October the Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC) said it would not be accommodating additional charter flights between the two countries, though it’s unclear what the organization’s position has been on the route between Dandong and Pyongyang.
But another source working in the border region told NK News on Friday that the route was only ever booked to fly for a month for test purposes, and that, due to a lack of profit, would not be continued.
The route, which launched in March 2017 following what was described by regular visitors to NK Pro as months of preparation, temporarily added hundreds of seats of weekly flight capacity to Air Koryo’s otherwise bare-bones operation between the two countries.
“With a flight time of only 30 minutes and using one of Air Koryo’s latest Antonov AN-148 aircraft, it could well prove a popular alternative to the more established Beijing route,” David Thompson, CEO of Juche Travel Services, told NK Pro at the time of the route’s initiation.
Air Koryo currently only regularly flies to Beijing, Shanghai, Shenyang, and Vladivostok.
The airline, which was designated as a sanctioned entity in December by the United States and later by South Korea, has in the past year lost access to several once-frequent destinations, including Kuwait and Malaysia, as well as suffered new restrictions on its service to China, the destination of the majority of its flights.
Main picture: NK News
Edited by Oliver Hotham
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