Gimpo International Airport (Yonhap)
Gimpo International Airport in Seoul is resuming the long-stalled operation of international flights from June, starting with popular routes between South Korea and Japan.
According to the Transport Ministry on Thursday, several South Korean and Japanese air carriers such as Korean Air, Asiana Airlines, Japan Airlines and All Nippon Airways have filed applications to resume international flights at the airport.
Gimpo Airport in western Seoul, one of the nation’s main gateways along with Incheon International Airport, is favored among travelers here when it comes to short-haul flights to neighboring countries such as Japan, China and Taiwan.
The planned resumption of the flights at the airport comes after years of cancelled flights connecting Korea and Japan, not just because of the unprecedented coronavirus pandemic but also due to soured ties between the two countries.
The aviation industry seems to be pinning high hopes on the incoming Yoon Suk-yeol administration, which has hinted at boosting human exchanges between Korea and Japan. President-elect Yoon said that he is willing to ease bilateral tensions, long strained over war history and trade disputes.
The ministry said it is in talks with health authorities on how to best fully open up the airport amid the still ongoing COVID-19 transmissions. Despite eased quarantine measures, no Chinese air carrier has applied to use the airport, possibly due to recent outbreaks in big cities such as Beijing and Shanghai.
The Korea Airports Corporation, the airport’s operator, said it has formed a task force last month to prepare for operational resumption by relocating manpower for immigration and quarantine procedures.
“Several airlines that used to operate international flights at the airport have applied for the flight resumption. The timetable may vary by airline, but if they are ready they will be able to resume flights within June,” a ministry official said.
By Hong Yoo (firstname.lastname@example.org