Benjamin Katzeff Silberstein
Rodong Sinmun carried a short/concise article announcing the new flight service’s premiere:
A Pyongyang-Dandong air service was opened. The plane will depart from Pyongyang at 9:00 Tuesday and Friday every week and arrive in Dandong at 9:50 (9:20 local time). And it will leave Dandong at 10:50 (10:20 local time) and arrive in Pyongyang at 11:40. The first plane with passengers aboard arrived in Pyongyang on Mar. 28.
The opening of the air service will provide conveniences to those wishing to tour the DPRK.
Meanwhile, Daily NK reports:
Liaoning province authorities are promoting the route’s low prices and short travel time as advantages for potential customers. One way fares are 800 yuan (approximately US $115), while round trip fares are 1,500 yuan (approximately $215), with the trip taking around 30 minutes. The Dandong-Pyongyang flight is listed as JS782, while the Pyongyang-Dandong flight is listed as JS781. However, the source notes that locals are unenthusiastic about flying with Koryo Airlines – North Korea’s state-owned carrier.“Amongst themselves, residents are expressing concern about Koryo Airlines’ obsolete equipment, and wondering whether the company can guarantee passenger safety,” the source said during a telephone conversation with Daily NK on March 24. “People are sarcastically quipping, ‘North Korea has a special kind of charm that makes you worry.’”Some are having trouble believing the airlines’ claim that the new line was opened because the number of people traveling back and forth between Pyongyang and Dandong is increasing.A new bridge under construction on the Yalu River will link up China’s Dandong with North Korea’s Sinuiju, but has yet to be completed. Ever since the United States Justice Department sanctioned the Chinese company Liaoning Hongxiang on suspicion of evading US sanctions on North Korea, Dandong residents have become wary of engaging in business with North Koreans.According to the source, Chinese residents in the area are saying that “Dandong has already been fooled multiple times by North Korea. Our residents don’t go to North Korea for vacations. Only naive people from the inner regions of China cross the border. So the pre-existing flights from Beijing to North Korea should suffice.”Additionally, the new air route is also unpopular because Chinese residents are wary of North Korea’s continued obsession with nuclear weapons and missiles despite international condemnation, said an additional source close to North Korean affairs in China.
Chinese residents sigh as Dandong-Pyongyang flights are unveiled
Kim Ga Young
(UPDATE 2017-03-30): Yonhap on restrictive measures by Russia and China on DPRK-related air traffic:
Russia and China have recently adopted punitive measures affecting North Korea’s aviation industry in a bid to mount pressure on the regime following its series of military provocations, the foreign ministry here said Thursday.
“Last May, the European Union banned North Korean airplanes or airplanes that depart from North Korea from landing on the territory of or flying in the airspace of the EU member countries,” Cho June-hyuck, spokesman at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, said in a press briefing.
He also referred to the U.S. and South Korea’s decisions in December to put North Korea’s sole airline Air Koryo on their sanctions lists as well as Australia’s on-going push to halt its flight service assistance to the North Korean air carrier, involving technology, training and financial support.
“As the outcome of the lead by South Korea, the U.S. and EU, Russian air carrier Aeroflot has recently suspended its code-sharing arrangement (with North Korea) and Air China, the only foreign airline servicing the North Korean route, is reportedly set to stop its flights to North Korea from mid-April,” the spokesman noted.
“This series of actions taken marks a meaningful step that took into account concerns that Air Koryo is being used in North Korea’s illegal activities,” he said, also referring to Thailand and Kuwait’s suspension of their air routes to the North last year.
Cho also pointed to growing sanctions efforts in the Central and South America with which, he said, North Korea is making a point of increasing ties in order to escape its worsening isolation from the rest of the world.
“Yesterday, the government of Ecuador announced withdrawal of its visa-waiver policy with North Korea,” he said. “It was a very notable action given that the Ecuadorian government has kept an ideological bond with North Korea.”
He said the recent action is in line with the condemnatory stances over North Korea’s recent provocations announced by the Caribbean community as well as Nicaragua, a traditional ally of North Korea.
Russia, China adopt sanctions on N. Korea’s flight services: ministry