Air Koryo Resumes Flights to Shenyang, Ending Nearly Four-Year Hiatus

SHENYANG, China: Air Koryo, the national airline of North Korea, resumed its commercial flight services between Pyongyang and Shenyang on Wednesday, after nearly four years of suspension due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

According to Yonhap News Agency, the flight JS155 left Pyongyang at 12:30 p.m. and arrived at Taoxian International Airport in Shenyang at 11:47 a.m. local time. The plane then made its return journey to North Korea at 3:47 p.m. It is estimated that around 120 North Korean residents, many of whom are involved in trading activities in China's northeastern region, were on board the flight returning to Pyongyang.

This operation marked the first passenger flight by Air Koryo between Pyongyang and Shenyang since January 2020. The resumption of this route is significant as Air Koryo had ceased passenger flights to Shenyang following the closure of Pyongyang's borders at the onset of the global COVID-19 pandemic. Although three North Korean airplanes flew to the northeastern Chinese city in May last year to transport medicine, passenger services had been on hold until now.

The airline's plane, as seen at Taoxian International Airport on Dec. 13, 2023, signifies a step towards normalizing air travel between the two cities. Sources indicate that Air Koryo is scheduled for another flight to Shenyang next Wednesday, but the regularity of these flights remains uncertain.

Prior to the pandemic-induced border closure, Air Koryo had a regular schedule of flights to Beijing thrice weekly and to Shenyang twice weekly. While most transportation links between North Korea and China's northeastern region have resumed, including cargo trains and trucks, passenger train services between Pyongyang, Sinuiju, Dandong, and Beijing are still suspended. North Korea also operates irregular bus services between Sinuiju and Dandong for its residents.

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