North Korean state-owned airline Air Koryo will begin operating new routes from Pyongyang to the Chinese cities of Xian and Chengdu in the coming weeks, a representative for the company confirmed to NK News on Friday.
Air Koryo currently operates regular international flights to Beijing and Shenyang in China, as well as Vladivostok on Russia’s far east coast.
The new routes to Xian, Shaanxi Province and Chengdu, Sichuan Province would become Air Koryo’s longest regularly-scheduled routes, at over 1500 km to Xian and over 2100 km to Chengdu.
The Air Koryo representative could not confirm specific dates the two routes would begin operating, but suggested flights to Xian would begin sometime in mid-July.
The revelation of more connections between Pyongyang and Chinese cities follows a third summit between Kim Jong Un and Chinese President Xi Jinping earlier this week.
During the two-day visit by Kim, the two leaders reportedly discussed closer cooperation between their countries, with Chinese state media suggesting further economic cooperation is in the works.
Kim’s third official state visit in under 90 days – having previously met in Beijing in March and Dalian in May – suggests the two countries have mended ties and are planning closer coordination as North Korea increases its diplomatic outreach to the U.S. and South Korea.
Bilateral relations between the two became strained in 2017 as China stepped up enforcement of UN economic sanctions on North Korea, though recent evidence suggests China may be relaxing these efforts.
The additional flight routes will be expected to bring in more Chinese tourists to the DPRK and offer increased revenue to the North Korean state-run operation.
At present, Air China is the only foreign company operating regular flights to North Korea, and only through a single thrice-weekly Beijing-Pyongyang route which restarted earlier this month.
Meanwhile, the Air Koryo representative on Friday told NK News a recently-announced domestic route from Pyongyang to Wonsan-Kalma has begun operations.
The company runs various regular and chartered routes between Pyongyang and other North Korean cities that are not typically updated on the Air Koryo website, but which have been announced in state media.
Edited by Oliver Hotham
Featured image: Eric Lafforgue
Join the influential community of members who rely on NK News original news and in-depth reporting.
Subscribe to read the remaining 379 words of this article.