|An electronic departure board at Incheon International Airport shows the schedule for the Incheon-Nanjing route, Sunday, as Asiana Airlines resumed its service the same day. / Yonhap|
By Jun Ji-hye
Korea has begun resuming flights on some air routes to China, to which service had been halted due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The flights are part of efforts to meet demand from students and businesspeople, according to officials from the transport ministry and air carriers Monday.
Asiana Airlines resumed its service from Incheon to Nanjing, Sunday, 105 days after the route was suspended amid the pandemic.
This has increased the number of available air routes to China, operated by domestic airlines, to four.
Before this, Korean Air, Asiana Airlines and Jeju Air operated flights on routes from Incheon to Shenyang, Changchun and Weihai, despite the pandemic.
An Asiana Airlines official noted that its flight connecting to Nanjing operates once a week, departing from Incheon International Airport at 12:20 p.m. every Sunday.
"We are making full efforts to resume flights on additional routes to China," the official said. "We hope the resumption of the Incheon-Nanjing route will be a chance for the airline industry to rebound."
On Tuesday, Jin Air announced plans to resume services on its Jeju-Xian route Thursday.
According to the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport, Korean Air and Air Busan also plan to resume services on routes from Incheon to Guangzhou and Shenzhen, respectively, within the month.
Regarding this, a Korean Air official said, "We are ready to resume services and are awaiting approval from the Chinese government."
The transport ministry said it was still in talks with Chinese aviation authorities to resume flights on three more routes to Chinese cities.
These routes are expected to be operated by Jeju Air, T'way Air and Air Busan.
The ministry said it was aiming to wrap up its consultations with the Chinese authorities by the end of the month, if possible.
Once the consultation is completed, the number of air routes to China, operated by domestic airlines, will increase to 10.
"We are doing our best to disinfect airports and planes, and take preventive measures on passengers and employees," a ministry official said.