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S. Korea sends cargo flights to China, Indonesia amid disrupted air travel

All News 08:32 April 29, 2020

SEOUL, April 29 (Yonhap) -- South Korea on Wednesday arranged two cargo flights to help local businesses deliver freight amid the new coronavirus pandemic that has virtually suspended global air traffic.

A cargo flight operated by Asiana Airlines Inc. left Incheon International Airport at 8:35 a.m. to China's southwestern city of Chongqing, according to the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy.

The other chartered flight, operated by Korean Air Lines Co., will head to Jakarta at 10:00 p.m. from Incheon International Airport, it added.

Planes of South Korea's flagship carrier, Korean Air, are grounded at Incheon International Airport, west of Seoul, on April 27, 2020. (Yonhap)

The two flights will deliver key export and import items for South Korean companies, including semiconductor-related materials.

"South Korea will consider increasing the number of such flights to help local companies keep running amid the spread of the COVID-19 virus and disturbed air travel," Industry Minister Sung Yun-mo said.

South Korea said it will continue to utilize idle planes that are currently grounded amid the pandemic and take a wide array of measures, including offering subsidies on shipping costs to export companies, to further rekindle business activities.

Seoul will also make efforts to foster new sectors to prepare for what it calls the post-pandemic era and provide necessary support to fifth-generation (5G) network technology or medical instrument industries.

Despite such efforts, however, the pandemic is expected to continue to splash cold water on its outbound shipments for the time being.

The country's exports are expected to have plunged by a whopping 25 percent in April from a year earlier, according to the poll by Yonhap Infomax, the financial news arm of Yonhap News Agency. The official data will be released Friday.

South Korea's monthly exports rebounded 4.5 percent in February on-year to end their 14 months of decrease. Exports, however, again shed 0.2 percent in the following month as the pandemic that originated in China started to make its way across the globe.

colin@yna.co.kr
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