A low-cost carrier wants to fly to North Korea
Spring Airlines, a low-cost Chinese operator, has expressed its intention to launch the Shanghai-Pyongyang route in February 2016. It has submitted the necessary documentation to obtain permission to fly to North Korea.
In the event of a favorable response, Spring Airlines could operate four weekly flights between the Shanghai-Hongqiao base and Pyongyang airport. It would be in indirect competition with Air China, which operates two weekly flights from Beijing, and with Air Koryo, the national company of North Korea, which operates 5 weekly flights to Beijing, two to Shenyang and two to Shanghai.
The flights could be honored with A320 Airbus type aircraft, which have 180 seating capacity. Currently, Spring Airlines owns a fleet of 52 Airbus A320 aircraft and has expressed its intention to purchase additional 21 aircraft from the A320 family. It operates to 60 from domestic and international destinations.
According to the South China Morning Post, most flights to North Korea are sold by tour operators who are accredited by Pyongyang. Air Koryo is favored by Western tourists who want to live the "North Korean experience" aboard Antonov, Ilyushin or Tupolev aircraft. According to a study by Skytrax, Air Koryo is the weakest airline in the world, being rated one star. However, the North Korean air operator is appreciated for its punctuality.