Beijing lets North Korea state airline resume flights to China

BEIJING (Reuters) -Beijing has allowed North Korea’s state carrier Air Koryo to resume flights to China more than three years after they stopped amid COVID-19 restrictions, the Chinese foreign ministry said on Monday.

The approval comes amid signs of increased contact between North Korea and its neighbour and biggest trading partner.

Train services between the countries have been increasing, South Korea’s Yonhap news agency reported on Thursday.

Last month, a Chinese delegation visited Pyongyang to celebrate the 70th anniversary of the end of the Korean War, the first such group to travel to the reclusive state since the pandemic.

China’s foreign ministry did not say when flights would resume and referred further questions to China’s aviation regulator which was not immediately available to comment.

An Air Koryo employee who answered a call to the number for the airline’s Shanghai office said he had no knowledge of the situation.

Flights between the two countries were suspended in early 2020 as both shut their borders in response to the pandemic. Previously, Air Koryo and Chinese state airline Air China flew the route.

“They used to have only one flight per day, alternating between Air China, Air Koryo,” Li Hanming, a Chinese aviation analyst, said.

(Reporting by Ella Cao, Lun Tian Yew, Sophie Yu in Beijing; Editing by Jacqueline Wong, Angus MacSwan and Andrew Heavens)