An image comparing single Korea-China air route (left) and newly agreed double-track route (right) that will be implemented from Thursday midnight. [Photo provided by the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport]
South Korea and China agreed to double-track a key air route flying over China towards Mongolia, the Middle East, and Europe from Thursday, a move that will significantly reduce airway congestion, government said Wednesday.
The Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport said that it held a working-level meeting with Chinese aviation authorities in Dalian, China, on Wednesday and agreed on the plan to double-track inland China air route from Thursday midnight. The agreement was reached after the Korean government first proposed double-tracking the key air route to China in 2010 and discussions were launched in 2016.
Under the agreement, 1,700 kilometers of the Korea-China air route (G597/A326) will be managed based on double track system, a change from single track that differentiates flight altitude to have planes fly upper and lower side. Double-tracking divides the air way into two horizontally, with space in between to have one for entry and the other for departure.
Airplanes flying to Korea via inland China will use existing air route while those flying out of Korea will use the new airway. The double-tracking is expected to benefit 15,000 flights annually, and in particular, reduce the number of delays for flights heading to Europe from previous 12 percent to 7 percent.
The airway passing inland China has been notorious as a chronically congested section, affecting flights departing Incheon International Airport en route to Europe. The Korea-China route is the most congested airway among Korea’s five major routes. Traffic has increased in recent years, calling for the need to double-track the route.
The route is used by 77 airlines for 400 flights daily, and it is considered a key airway connecting Korea and Japan to 106 cities in 60 countries including China, Mongolia, the Middle East, Russia, and Europe.
By Choi Hee-seok and Lee Eun-joo
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