LONDON – The International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) announced earlier today that the Government of North Korea has sent a request to launch routes between Pyongyang and Seoul, the capital cities of North and South Korea, respectively.
This surprising move has come following several peace summit meetings between the North and the South in the last few weeks.
“The request was conveyed to the Korea Office of Civil Aviation (KOCA), Republic of Korea, indicating ICAO’s willingness to facilitate and support further discussions. The latest update from KOCA is that the request is presently under their consideration. ICAO’s Asia and Pacific Regional Director, Mr Arun Mishra, will be conducting a joint mission with ICAO’s Director of Air Navigation Bureau, Mr Stephen Creamer, to the DPRK next week, where this request will be further discussed among other air navigation and safety matters,” Anthony Philbin, ICAO’s chief of communications, said in an emailed statement to Sputnik before officials left on their mission.
North Korea’s only carrier, Air Koryo, would be the airline to operate the routes between both cities. The carrier already serves three international destinations, including Beijing, Shenyang, and Vladivostok.
Nuclear Tests No More
The main issues presented to ICAO currently are the nuclear missile tests that are taking place, citing safety dangers to the aviation industry.
Back in October 2017, ICAO reported that one of the missiles launched by North Korea had taken place over an area of international air routes which would have affected traffic patterns and could have potentially resulted in something even more deadly. However, ICAO would be able to take a more considered approach to this new route especially as the North Korean government has recently pledged to denuclearize their country this year.
The request was apparently filed in February 2018, just before the Winter Olympic Games were due to start. This was also at a time where the leaders of the South and the North were beginning to talk on a more mutually friendly basis. It has been said by sources within the South Korean government that plans for this route to connect the two countries is supported well.
Re-Opening A Frontier
The re-opening of the Korean frontier would be a groundbreaking event with no precedent. Both governments would be pushing forward to link both its capitals aiming to expand their political and even cultural assimilation.
This flight service could open up some new trade benefits for the North, especially as they have been hit with numerous amounts of sanctions by the UN and the US over recent times.
The DPRK will be looking to use this route as a way of relieving those sanctions to then give the North Korean people the ability to trade freely without any worries from others around the world about any tensions ongoing.
If these routes are approved by ICAO and other regulators, then it will be a significant achievement in talks between the two sides, especially as it is a political symbol of opening each side up to each other more freely without any sense of border regulation. It will be interesting to watch how these approvals will development over the next few months.