North Korea's Air Koryo to begin direct flights to Macau

North Korea's Air Koryo to begin direct flights to Macau

north korean airlines air koryo
Crew members walk beneath an Air Koryo aircraft during the second day of the Wonsan Friendship Air Festival in Wonsan on Sep 25, 2016. (Photo: AFP)

HONG KONG: North Korea's national airline Air Koryo will resume direct flights from Pyongyang to the gambling enclave of Macau next week after a 15-year hiatus, the Chinese territory's civil aviation authority said.

With the relaunch of the route, Macau will become the fourth city with a regular scheduled flight to the North Korean capital after Beijing and Shenyang in China and Vladivostok in Russia.

Macau's civil aviation authority said in a statement that it had "approved Air Koryo to operate flights between Pyongyang and Macau" twice a week, starting from Aug 2.

Air Koryo previously operated a flight between the two cities between 1996 and 2004, the statement added.

Macau, often dubbed the "Las Vegas of Asia" for its massive gambling industry, has a history with North Korea.

Kim Jong Nam, the half-brother of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, was living in exile in Macau with his wife and children before he was poisoned in a brazen assassination in Kuala Lumpur airport in 2017.

Macau's gambling mogul Stanley Ho opened Casino Pyongyang in North Korea in 1999.

China is by far the biggest source of tourists for the isolated North, with direct flights and a long land border connecting the neighbours, and tens of thousands believed to visit every year.

Source: AFP/aa