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(2nd LD) S. Korea, Japan to resume Gimpo-Haneda flight service next week

Diplomacy 11:06 June 22, 2022

(ATTN: ADDS more details in last 2 paras; CLARIFIES 5th para)

SEOUL, June 22 (Yonhap) -- South Korea and Japan have agreed to reopen an air route between Seoul's Gimpo and Tokyo's Haneda airports after more than two years of suspension due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the transport ministry said Wednesday.

The flight service between the two airports will resume next Wednesday eight times per week, according to the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport.

South Korea's two major airlines -- Korean Air and Asiana Airlines -- and their counterparts -- Japan Airlines and All Nippon Airways -- will operate the route, the ministry said.

The number of flights will increase in phases starting next month in consideration of demand and preparations by airliners.

In 2019, there was a total of 21 regular flights by the four airlines every week.

Seoul and Tokyo had been in close consultation on the resumption of the key route, which has been suspended since March 2020, and they agreed upon the reopening during a virtual meeting between their airline authorities Tuesday, the ministry said.

Last month, South Korean President Yoon Suk-yeol expressed hope for the flight resumption to bolster bilateral exchanges during a meeting with a Japanese parliamentary delegation.

Currently, the two countries operate flights between South Korea's main gateway, Incheon International Airport, west of Seoul, and Japan's Narita International Airport, as well as the Incheon-Osaka route and several others linking Incheon and smaller Japanese cities.

"The Gimpo-Haneda route bears a significant symbol of the bilateral exchanges. The flight resumption is expected to serve as a chance to revitalize exchanges," Land Minister Won Hee-ryong said.

The culture and tourism ministry said it plans to hold sessions to promote trips to South Korea in major Japanese cities in the second half of the year.

This file photo, taken April 15, 2022, shows aircraft at Gimpo International Airport in western Seoul. (Yonhap)


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