SEOUL-- A North Korean jet airliner for international flights has been grounded for eight months due apparently to the decline of passengers amid international sanctions on North Korea's continued nuclear and missile tests, a U.S. broadcaster reported Tuesday.
One of Air Koryo's An-148 airplanes, whose flight number is P-672, has had no flight data since November, Voice of America said, citing an e-mail from Flightradar24, a civic live flight tracker that shows air traffic in real time.
At present, the North's sole airline holds only four airliners on international routes -- two Russian-made Tu-204 airplanes and two Ukraine-made An-148 aircraft.
The North's sole airline introduced an An-148 medium-range airplane in 2013 and 2015 from the Ukraine Antonov Co. The airliner is capable of carrying up to 85 passengers with a range of 2,100�4,400 km.
The long suspension of the P-672 operation has something to do with the decrease in the number of Air Koryo's overall flights, the broadcaster said.
Until last year, the airline had operated its planes on eight international routes at least without stop, with its An-148 jets, in particular, intensively mobilized to carry summer vacationers from Chinese cities like Qingdao and Taiyuan.
This year, however, Air Koryo curtailed the number of flights from five per week to four on the Pyongyang-Beijing route and from twice per week to once every two weeks on the Pyongyang-Shanghai line.
Such decline is attributable to a drop in passengers because of the U.N. sanctions, the broadcaster said.
Source: Yonhap News Agency