North Korea’s continuous missile launches have caused airlines around the world to reroute their flights, increasing costs and flight time.
Data from South Korea’s transport ministry shows 34 airlines from 17 countries flew through North Korea’s flight information region when traveling to South Korea in 2015.
Nine airlines dropped the route in 2016 and the number fell to 25 early this year.
The International Civil Aviation Organization requires countries to report information regarding traffic, passenger safety, weather and any potential hazard to flight. North Korea stopped alerting the ICAO of impending missile launches from February last year, Chosun Ilbo reported.
Following the North’s missile launches in July this year, Singapore Airlines became the latest to divert its routes. Now only seven Russian airlines are currently flying through the airspace, according to Chosun Ilbo.
Flight time from the United States to Seoul has increased by 30 to 40 minutes, as planes swerve the Pyongyang FIR to fly over Japanese airspace instead. Longer time in the air has driven up fuel costs for airliners by the billions.
According to the South China Morning Post, the ICAO may declare an all-out no-fly zone over North Korea.
The aviation authority in October had condemned the rogue state for its repeated missile launches, saying they severely threaten the safety of civilian passengers.
Last month, the North’s latest launch of an intercontinental ballistic missile raised alarm among airliners, as the rocket was reportedly spotted by several crew members on nearby planes.
By Jennie Oh