Air China reopens Pyongyang route despite political tensions, pressure from Trump
Air China had cited poor sales as the reason for suspending flights on its Beijing-Pyongyang route, with Chinese state broadcaster CCTV reporting on April 14 that flights would be halted indefinitely. It now appears this was actually a temporary measure.
The carrier, which has been operating the route since 2008, now plans to reduce the number of weekly round-trips from three to two starting on May 5 through to October 27, Reuters reported.
The cutback in the number of flights was thought to be a reaction to heightening tensions between North Korea and China, their sole major ally, over Pyongyang’s nuclear program.
US President Donald Trump has called on China to do more to help stifle North Korea’s nuclear ambitions following a number of recent ballistic missile tests.
I explained to the President of China that a trade deal with the U.S. will be far better for them if they solve the North Korean problem!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) April 11, 2017
China accounts for more than 80 percent of North Korea’s foreign trade, with the vast majority of the state’s foreign currency believed to come from the coal it sells to China each year.
Beijing banned imports of coal from North Korea in February. Further bans on other energy imports, including oil, have also been suggested as a potential response to future tests.