S. Korea and China work on establishing double track of air route

Lim Chang-won Reporter Posted : 2018-02-02 13:56 Updated : 2018-02-13 15:58
글씨작게 글씨크게

[Courtesy of Korean Air]

SEOUL, Feb. 02 (Aju News) -- South Korea and China are working on established the double track of their crowded air route that had caused flight delays and high fuel costs as the two countries brace for the normalization of relations soured by a diplomatic row over the deployment of a U.S. missile shield.

The agreement came at bilateral talks between South Korea and China on Tuesday in Beijing on the sidelines of an international conference attended by senior officials in charge of aviation in the Asia-Pacific region, according to the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport.

South Korea, led by Vice Minister Maeng Sung-kyu, agreed with China to push for the early normalization of their aviation market, and strengthen aviation cooperation, the ministry said, adding the agenda included a double air route to reduce fuel costs and delays in flights bound for China, Europe and the Middle East, it said.

Ministry data showed that the air route, which opened between South Korea and China in 1994, links about 90 cities in China, the Middle East and Europe with about 150,000 flights using it annually. Air traffic on the route has increased at an annual average rate of ten percent. In 2016, congested traffic delayed some 1,250 flights.

The two sides "agreed to strengthen cooperation for the double track of the Sino-Korean air route (G597) between Seoul and Beijing in order to cope with rising demand and ease traffic delays", the ministry said in a statement. 

If the number of flights between South Korea and China is doubled, the air route for entering and departing airports will be separated, it said.

Chinese visitors accounted for nearly half of some 17 million foreigners who visited South Korea in 2016. The tourism industry was hit hard by a business setback last year when Beijing implemented a ban on group tours to South Korea in retaliation for the deployment of a U.S. missile shield.
The total number of Chinese tourists fell 48.3 percent on-year to 4.1 million in 2017, according to the state-run Korea Tourism Organization. Beijing partially lifted the ban after the two nations agreed in October last year to normalize relations, but Chinese tourists have trickled in so far.