Air China finally lands in Pyongyang

According to Reuters, Air China on Monday launched service to North Korea, making it the world’s only foreign airline to fly regularly to Pyongyang.

The Beijing-Pyongyang flight route was postponed by three months after Air China said preparatory work took longer than expected.

Air China will fly the return trip three times per week, making Pyongyang a Star Alliance destination, the airline grouping led by Singapore Airlines, Lufthansa and United Airlines.

Air China said previously that it saw the financial potential in the route, primarily from the Chinese tourist business.

I predicted that Air China would primarily service Chinese customers, with Westerners sticking with Air Koryo, the North Korean airline. In separate conversations with Koryo Tours and Walter Keats both tour operators expressed a preference for Air Koryo because of its flexibility and unique atmosphere, neither of which Air China can easily match. 

The time-warp effect travelers feel when boarding an Air Koryo flight, however, might be soon diminished.  Largely at the insistence of Beijing, Air Koryo has recently updated its fleet to meet international safety standards.  Although the stewardesses appearance and speaker announcement welcoming arrivals to the land of “juche paradise” will likely remain the same, the 1950’s era deco interior will certainly take on a more conventional feel. 

Source material here:
Air China launches flights to North Korea
Reuters
Simon Rabinovitch
3/31/2008

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  1. […] China Southern has operated Beijing-Pyongyang flights in the past does not do so at present. […]