Air China suspends key North Korea route between Beijing and Pyongyang over low demand

Chinese flag carrier says 'business was not good' for service into isolated nation's capital

Tom Barnes
Thursday 23 November 2017 17:19
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Air China was the only foreign airline offering flghts to Pyongyang
Air China was the only foreign airline offering flghts to Pyongyang

Air China has cancelled flights between Beijing and Pyongyang due to low demand, closing one of the few routes into North Korea.

The state-owned airline confirmed it had “indefinitely suspended” its route between the Chinese capital and the isolated nation this week.

An official in the company’s Beijing-based press office, who only gave his name as “Ding”, told Reuters flights had been suspended because: “business was not good”.

He declined to comment on when the service could resume.

Air China had been the only airline apart from the North Korean state’s own Air Koryo to operate a route into and out of Pyongyang.

The firm had provided flights on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays since it launched the service in 2008.

However, the route has suffered from frequent suspensions since its launch, according to Chinese state media.

The suspension of flights by China’s national flag carrier follows US President Donald Trump’s declaration North Korea is a "state sponsor of terror", triggering further sanctions against the regime.

Mr Trump told reporters on Monday the decision “should have happened years ago” and demanded Pyongyang: “end its unlawful nuclear and ballistic missile development”.

The decision was labelled a “serious provocation” by the North Korean regime.

The secretive nation’s state media outlet KCNA accused the US yesterday of having: “openly revealed to the whole world its intention to destroy our ideology and system by using all kinds of means and methods”.

Meanwhile, the UK’s Chinese Ambassador Liu Xiaoming has insisted he is “cautiously optimistic” about the potential for a diplomatic solution to tension between North Korea and the West.

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