Mainland and Korea open skies in air deal

PUBLISHED : Friday, 26 March, 2004, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 26 March, 2004, 12:00am

China has moved a step further in the liberalisation of its aviation industry after concluding an air services agreement with South Korea.

The agreement, finalised on Friday, will open up more routes to Korean carriers and allow them more frequencies to mainland cities.

Both governments also agreed to abandon the 'one carrier, one route' policy, allowing flag carrier Korean Air to tap the lucrative route between Seoul and Shanghai.

According to the agreement, carriers from Korea will be given an extra 11 weekly flights between Seoul and Shanghai, on top of the 17 weekly frequencies now flown by Asiana Airlines, South Korea's No2 carrier.

'We hope to have the 11 new rights to Shanghai in order to keep a balance. It is a chance for us to access the lucrative market,' said Shin Mu-chol, Korean Air general manager for regional passenger sales (Hong Kong, Macau and southern China). 'But it is subject to the government's decision.'

Korean Air is now operating a daily service between Busan and Shanghai.

Korean carriers have been given 33 more weekly passenger frequencies to mainland destinations, meaning the airlines can operate up to 94 flights to China per week.

Both countries will receive three more fifth freedom - or fly-beyond - rights each week. This will allow mainland airlines to fly up to seven times a week to the United States via Korea, while Korean carriers will be allowed seven flights to Europe using Beijing as a stopover.

Simon Yang, Korean Air managing vice-president, regional headquarters (Hong Kong and Southeast Asia), said the agreement was a fair deal.

'Both countries tried to open up their skies and the liberalisation of air transportation comes in step by step,' Mr Yang said.

The Korean carriers were also granted new routes to the mainland from second-tier cities such as Yangyang, Daegu and Cheongju.

The mainland's aviation regulator, the General Administration for Civil Aviation of China, which has been pursuing the liberalisation of its aviation regime, could not be reached for comment yesterday.