BEIJING (Reuters) -China’s civil aviation authority has granted Air Koryo approval to fly between Pyongyang and Beijing on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday from March 26 to Oct. 28, the authority said on Wednesday in a response to Reuters queries.
Chinese state carrier Air China, which also used to fly between the two cities, has not applied to resume flying China-North Korea routes, it said. The regulator grants flight approvals by season.
Before the COVID-19 pandemic, there were usually about 3-5 Air Koryo flights between Beijing and Pyongyang a week, depending on season and demand, as well as flights to Shanghai and Shenyang, said Simon Cockerell, general manager at Beijing-based Koryo Tours.
An Air Koryo flight from Pyongyang landed in Beijing early on Tuesday for the first time since pandemic lockdowns began in 2020 as North Korea cracks open its border to passenger travel.
It wasn’t immediately clear who was aboard the flight, but Western tour companies that operate in North Korea said it appeared to be a special flight that would carry back North Koreans who had been stuck in China by the years of border closures.
Cargo train and ship traffic has slowly increased over the past year, but North Korea has only just begun to allow some international passenger travel.
(Reporting by Sophie Yu and Brenda Goh; Additional reporting by Laurie Chen; Editing by Tom Hogue and Gerry Doyle)