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S Korean carrier to expand services

KOREAN Air is planning to start chartered flights to a yet-to-be-announced destination in south China, says S Y Yum, the airline's vice-president at the regional head office for Southeast Asia.

He said plans would depend on the governments of South Korea and China.

'We hope to start the flights at the end of July to co-incide with summer holidays,' Mr Yum said yesterday.

The chartered flights will carry between 150 and 160 passengers - most are expected to be tourists.

The carrier flies to Beijing daily, with three or four extra flights weekly to Tianjin, Qingdao and Shenyang. It started flights in December.

Mr Yum said the South Korean domestic market demand for flights to China was growing between 25 and 30 per cent a year.

Korean Air had signed a letter of intent with Air China in May to invest US$103 million in a cargo facility at Beijing airport.

Korean Air had also signed a co-operation agreement with Air China.

'There is big potential in China.' Mr Yum said Korean Air was planning to fly cargo aircraft to the mainland. Currently, Korean Air had rights to fly over China en route to Moscow and Rome, he said.

Mr Yum said other Korean Air flights to Frankfurt, Paris and London were directed over Siberia, adding an extra 11/2 hours of flying time.

'We would like to fly over China but they will not let us,' he said.

Beijing did not want foreign airlines flying over all parts of the country, he said.

Mr Yum said a second Korean airline, Asiana, was flying to Beijing and Shanghai from Seoul.