|Domestic airplanes are parked on the tarmac of Gimhae International Airport in this file photo taken Nov. 17, 2020. Yonhap|
By Lee Hae-rin
Starting next month, the nation's regional airports, which have been dormant since the COVID-19 pandemic began early last year, will resume international flights, as more people are getting fully vaccinated.
According to the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport, it will gradually ease restrictions on international flights, which were imposed in April last year, and resume international flight services on a regular basis next month for fully vaccinated people and those with a quarantine exemption certificate.
International flights will be available for foreign and Korean nationals abroad who have been fully vaccinated with Pfizer, Moderna, AstraZeneca or Janssen, two weeks prior to entry to the country.
Those granted quarantine exemptions can also board planes here after receiving quarantine exemption certificates issued by diplomatic establishments abroad for urgent and inevitable entry for business, academic, public or humanitarian reasons.
The international flight services will resume at the end of November at Gimhae International Airport first, offering two routes to Saipan and one to Guam.
The flights to Saipan and Guam, which are popular winter vacation destinations here, will be provided to meet the increasing demand for international travel, following the launch of travel bubble agreements with those destinations. The domestic airlines to operate these flights will be selected later.
By December, when herd immunity is expected to be achieved, international flights departing from international airports in Daegu, Cheongju and Muan will also be expanded gradually, after three to five test flights.
By the Lunar New Year holiday next year, international operations at the airports of Gimpo, Jeju and Yangyang will also be increased, considering demand for overseas travel and management of customs, immigration and quarantine.
"We expect to improve international travel services as the restrictions on international flights are lifted at regional airports. The ministry will fully support the recovery of the regional airline and tourism industries," Kim Yong-seok, an official at the ministry's Civil Aviation Office, said in an official statement.