After fuel ban, North flies to China more

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After fuel ban, North flies to China more

Despite the ban on aviation fuel exports to North Korea under the latest UN Security Council sanctions, its state-owned carrier Air Koryo is reportedly increasing the number of flights to Beijing and Shanghai.

Air Koryo has increased its number of flights between Pyongyang and Beijing from four to five days a week, reported the Voice of America (VOA) on Wednesday. VOA also said that based on the Air Koryo website, the airline will add a flight, JS151, starting from the beginning of next month departing Pyongyang for Beijing at 8:30 a.m. The return flight, JS152, will depart Beijing Capital International Airport later that day at noon and arrive back in Pyongyang at 2:30 p.m.

The expanded Friday flight is the Russian Tupolev Tu-204, a twin-engine medium-range jet airliner that can carry up to about 140 passengers.

Air Korea currently runs flights to Beijing on Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday and is now adding Friday to that list.

VOA also reported that Air Koryo has been recently running flights twice a week to Shanghai. It only ran limited flights between Pyongyang and Shanghai last summer, but VOA reports that flights to Shanghai have operated every Sunday and Thursday since May 19.

Starting last July, the North Korean flagship carrier also operated the Pyongyang-Shanghai route for three months but reportedly did not reflect this on their website.

Shanghai-bound Flight JS 157 and the return JS 158 are on the Russian and Ukrainian Antonov An-148 jet airliner, which can carry up to 80 passengers, according to this report.

On March 2, the UN Security Council unanimously adopted Resolution 2270, imposing the toughest-ever sanctions on Pyongyang for its fourth nuclear test in January.

China and Russia, both permanent members of the 15-member Security Council and traditionally allies of Pyongyang, backed the resolution.

The resolution bans the sale or supply of aviation fuel, including aviation gasoline, naphtha-type jet fuel, kerosene-type jet fuel and kerosene-type rocket fuel to North Korea.

There have also been separate reports that Beijing will soon expand a trilateral free economic zone project between North Korea, China and Russia.

But Unification Ministry spokesman Jeong Joon-hee said in a briefing Wednesday, “That is something we will need to check further.”

“Overall, there is no change in the international cooperation toward North Korea’s denuclearization,” said Jeong.

BY SARAH KIM [kim.sarah@joongang.co.kr]

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