North Korean State Airline Eyes International Expansion
Air Koryo, the national flag carrier of North Korea, is planning international route expansion amid the country's ongoing thaw in diplomatic relations.
The state-owned airline wants to launch a new charter flight from Pyongyang (FNJ) to Chengdu (CTU), one of the biggest cities in Western China, Reuters reports. According to its website, Air Koryo currently operates flights from Pyongyang (FNJ) to Beijing (PEK), Shenyang (SHE) and Vladivostok (VVO). Check out this TPG review of an economy flight on Air Koryo.
Officials told Reuters that the flights could start as soon as late June, pending approval from China's aviation regulator. Neighboring China has always been North Korea's closest ally, although international fallout over North Korea's nuclear program complicated the relationship. But following two meetings between Chinese President Xi Jinping and North Korea's Kim Jong Un, the relationship looks to be on the mend.
China was previously one of the only countries that flew into North Korea (Air China's PEK to FNJ route), but that flight was canceled in November 2017 due to lack of demand.
About fourth-fifths of all North Korean tourists are from China, according to numbers from the Korea Maritime Institute.