S Korea, UAE agree to increase bilateral flight ceiling to 21 per week

SEOUL, Oct. 14 (Yonhap) -- South Korea and the United Arab Emirates have agreed to increase the maximum number of commercial flights connecting the two countries to 21 per week, according to the transportation ministry Saturday.

The agreement to raise the current ceiling of 15 flights per week was reached during aviation talks held in Seoul on Thursday and Friday.

The UAE has reportedly demanded that South Korea expand the number of allowed bilateral flights, as much as threefold or fourfold, from the current ceiling.

The ministry said the decision was reached amid the UAE's commitment to invest US$30 billion in South Korea. It said the latest agreement signals the expansion of bilateral cooperation in the field of aviation transport.

The South Korean aviation industry, however, has raised concerns that it could see a negative impact from the decision. The industry is also reportedly concerned that such a move could affect its European flight businesses.

Currently, Korean Air Co. operates flights to Dubai via its A330 airliners seven days a week. The UAE's Emirates and Etihad Airways also run daily flights connecting the two countries.

An aviation industry insider said the decision should have been made after sufficient discussions with the local industry as it could "erode the competitiveness of South Korea's national carrier."

During bilateral aviation talks held in 2018 and 2019, the UAE demanded an increase in the flight number ceiling. South Korea rejected the demand due to concerns of a negative impact on the local aviation industry.

Source: Yonhap News Agency

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