South Korea and China on Thursday began to operate irregular flights to allow Korean residents in China who returned here due to the coronavirus outbreak to go back, the transport ministry said.
Korean Air Lines Co. and Xiamen Airlines will offer a total of seven flights from Incheon, west of Seoul, to Qingdao, Zhengzhou and Xiamen from Thursday until Oct. 15, according to the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport.
All passengers are required to submit the results of a coronavirus test conducted within 72 hours prior to boarding and follow antivirus guidelines.
The flight schedules are subject to change depending on the two countries' coronavirus situations.
On the regular flight side, local airlines provide flights on 10 routes to China as of Thursday.
Korean Air offers once-a-week flights on routes from Incheon to Tianjin, Guangzhou and Shenyang. Asiana Airlines Inc. provides once-a-week flights on routes from Incheon to Changchun, Nanjing and Cheungdu.
Among low-cost carriers, Jeju Air Co. and Jin Air Co. serve the Incheon-Weihai and the Jeju-Xian routes.
On Thursday, T'way Air began flights to the Chinese city of Wuhan, marking the reopening of air service to the epicenter of the coronavirus outbreak after eight months.
The number of flights to China plunged to 21 a week in the fifth week of August from 1,164 during the winter season of 2019, with the number of routes down to 16 from 84 during the same period, the ministry said.
The country has two full-service carriers -- Korean Air and Asiana Airlines Inc. -- and seven budget carriers -- Jeju Air, Jin Air, Air Busan Co., Air Seoul Inc., Eastar Jet, T'way Air and Fly Gangwon. (Yonhap)