Sat, Mar 11, 2017 - Page 6 News List

Airlines cut flights between S Korea, China over THAAD

Reuters, SHANGHAI

Airlines yesterday cut some routes between China and South Korea as the fallout spread from a diplomatic row over Seoul’s plans to deploy a US missile defense system regardless of Beijing’s objections.

In a statement on its Web site, South Korea’s Eastar Jet said it was stopping flights between the South Korean cities of Cheongju and the tourist hot spot Jeju and various Chinese cities, including Ningbo, Jinjiang and Harbin.

This followed Carnival’s Costa Cruises and Royal Caribbean Cruises canceling South Korean port visits by their China-based cruises.

Royal Caribbean cited “recent developments regarding the situation in South Korea.”

A South Korean government document seen by reporters said that China recently gave a “seven-point” verbal instruction to travel firms to curtail or ban trips to South Korea.

The crackdown has sent a chill across South Korea’s retail and tourism sectors, which rely heavily on Chinese trade, and prompted South Korea to say it would consider filing a complaint against China with the WTO over what it described as trade retaliation over the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) deployment.

According to searches of their Web sites yesterday, China Eastern Airlines and Spring Airline have stopped selling tickets for mid-next week onward for flights between Ningbo and popular South Korean tourist island Jeju.

The two airlines did not respond to requests for comment.

Princess Cruises, also owned by Carnival, yesterday said in a statement that it would change its routes to remove visits to South Korea, which it said would give passengers more time on the boat and at Japanese sites.

“Due to the current situation, Princess Cruises’ China team has been in close dialogue and prudent discussions with relevant departments,” the firm said. “All routes which involve South Korea have been altered.”

South Korea relies heavily on Chinese tourists, who make up nearly half of all foreign visitors, official South Korean government data showed.

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