The Chinese authority disapproved operations of non-scheduled flights to South Korea in January, a move that could further scale down Chinese visitors to Korea during the Lunar New Year’s holiday season. The sudden action is suspected to be a part of veiled economic retaliation against Korea for its decision to deploy Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) missile defense system,
According to multiple sources from the aviation industry on Friday, the Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC) disapproved non-scheduled flight operations from China to Korea requested by three Korean air carriers. Non-scheduled flights - also referred to as irregular flights or chartered flights - are air routes operated by airline companies in addition to its regular flights to cope with increased passenger demand.
In general, non-scheduled flights operate to and from regional cities in which regular flights do not serve. They also operate during peak season when scheduled flights are not able to fully accommodate passengers. For Korean air carriers, the weeklong Chinese New Year is their busiest. If flights are less available, Chinese tourists could turn to other destinations during the holiday season.
The decision comes after the Chinese government in October reportedly ordered travel agencies to reduce group tours to Korea by about 20 percent, citing consumer complaints over cheap tour packages.
The potential scale-down in Chinese tourists would be a major disappointment to the Korean hotel and tourism industry struggling with slow business in their hopes for a relief from Chinese visitors during the holiday season . About 3 percent of Chinese tourists flew into Korea through on chartered planes.
By Park Man-won
[ⓒ Pulse by Maeil Business News Korea & mk.co.kr, All rights reserved]