North Korea to start flights to Chinese president’s hometown; It’s opening up more, say experts
Air Koryo, the national carrier of North Korea, is set to offer more flights from Pyongyang to China and experts believe that it is a signal that the hermit kingdom is opening up more to the outer world, according to a report by China's Global Times.
According to the report, Air Koryo will now begin flights between Pyongyang and Xi'an, the capital of China's Shaanxi , and also the hometown of Chinese President Xi Jinping.
Air Koryo is planning to start flights on the route from July, top sources at Xi'an Xianyang International Airport told Global Times on Monday, June 25.
They, however, said that the details of the flights' schedule could not be confirmed as of now since China's civil aviation authorities had to give the final approval, the Global Times added. It was told that things were "running smoothly" as of now.
The news nevertheless excited the local travel agencies as they were already busy preparing tour schedules, the report added.
With the beginning of the Air Koryo operations, Xi'an will be the fifth Chinese city to get connected to Pyongyang.
In May, Air Koryo planned to start flights between Pyongyang and Chengdu, the capital of Sichuan Province in Southwest China, and the flight will eventually begin on June 28, Chengdu Business Daily reported on June 13.
Air Koryo is already providing direct flights from Pyongyang to big cities like Beijing, Shenyang and Shanghai.
Da Zhigang, director of the Institute of Northeast Asian Studies at the Heilongjiang Academy of Social Sciences, said the plan to begin new flights connecting North Korea and China shows North Korea is eager to open up more, Global Times cited.
The new flights will connect the two countries more in terms of tourism, business and information and it will have a positive impact on the relations between the two old allies in the region, something that had been adversely hit after North Korea recklessly pursued its nuclear programme till last year.
North Korean leader Kim Jong-un has already made three visits to China starting March this year and has cemented the relationship with Chinese President Xi Jinping.
He has also met South Korean President Moon Jae-in twice besides meeting Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong besides holding a historic summit with US President Donald Trump in Singapore on June 12.
Under him, the North Korean regime has also shown significant shifts in its nuclear policy and an intent to engage more with the outer world.