Air Koryo

Air Koryo
Air Koryo
Founded 1950 (as Sokao)
1954 (as Chosonminhang Korean Airways)
Hubs Sunan International Airport
Fleet size 41 (+1 order)
Destinations 21
Headquarters Pyongyang, North Korea
Key people
  • Kang Ki Sop (Director General of the General Civil Aviation Administration of the DPRK)
  • An Pyong Chil (director of the General Bureau of Civil Aviation)[1]
Air Koryo
Chosŏn'gŭl 고려항공
Hancha 高麗航空
McCune–Reischauer Koryŏ Hanggong
Revised Romanization Goryeo Hanggong
Air Koryo ticketing office, Central District, Pyongyang

Air Koryo (Korean: 고려항공, Koryo Hanggong; formerly Chosŏn Minhang (조선민항)) is the state-owned national flag carrier airline of North Korea, headquartered in Sunan-guyŏk, Pyongyang.[2] Based at Sunan International Airport (IATA: FNJ),[3] it operates international scheduled and charter services to points in Asia and Europe.

Air Koryo has offices in Beijing, Shenyang, Macau, Bangkok, Toronto, Berlin, Moscow, as well as sales agencies in Hong Kong, Kuala Lumpur, Singapore,[4] Tokyo, Taipei, Khabarovsk and Vladivostok.



Air Koryo was established first under the name Sokao, which was founded in 1950 as a joint Soviet-North Korean concern to connect North Korea with Moscow. Services were suspended during the Korean War, to resume in 1953. The current airline was established in 1954, started operations on 21 September 1955, and was placed under the control of the Civil Aviation Administration of Korea.[3] CAAK began operations with Lisunov Li-2, Antonov An-2 and Ilyushin Il-12 aircraft. Ilyushin Il-14 and Ilyushin Il-18 turboprops were added to the fleet in the 1960s.

Jet operation commenced in 1975, when the first Tupolev Tu-154 was delivered for services from Pyongyang to Prague, East Berlin and Moscow. However, because the Tu-154 did not have the sufficient range, the plane had to land not only at Irkutsk, but also at Novosibirsk. Along with the Tu-154, Tu-134s and An-24s were delivered to start domestic services. The Tu-154 fleet was increased at the start of the 1980s, and the first Ilyushin Il-62 was delivered in 1982 (two of these aircraft were used in VIP configuration), allowing CAAK to offer a direct non-stop service to Moscow for the first time. During this period, Sofia and Belgrade were also destinations.

The end of the Cold War and the collapse of communism in Europe saw a vast reduction in the number of international services offered. CAAK became Air Koryo in 1993. Also in 1993, Air Koryo ordered 3 Ilyushin Il-76 cargo aircraft to carry extra cargo to its destinations in China and Russia. Air Koryo recently purchased two new Tupolev Tu-204 aircraft to replace the aging international fleet.[5] Air Koryo has also started modernizing its fleet interiors. With the new Tu-204, Air Koryo would be able to fly to Europe.

In September 2009, Air Koryo opted to order a further example of the Tu-204-300 aircraft and in addition a single Tupolev Tu-204-100. These aircraft will see to the replacement of aging aircraft in their current fleet. Air Koryo is also in talks over possible orders for Sukhoi Superjet 100 to replace the aging Tu-134 and An-24 aircraft.

Air Koryo will be receiving its first of two Tupolev Tu-204-100B aircraft fitted with 210 seats. The aircraft will be used to replace the aging aircraft currently in their fleet. Flights to Dalian, China have been added to the Air Koryo schedule with a twice weekly Tu-134 flights from Pyongyang and direct services from Pyongyang to Shanghai Pudong have been inaugurated with a two weekly service via JS522 and returning on JS523[6][7] opened this year.[8]

On March 30, 2010, Air Koryo had two Tu-204 aircraft lifted from the European blacklist, allowing the airline to recommence flights to Western Europe.[9]

In 2011, Air Koryo inaugurated services to Kuala Lumpur and Kuwait City, both being operated weekly by Tupolev Tu-204 aircraft. The services operate year round.[10]

Industry Rating

According to Skytrax airline rating services, among all worldwide carriers, it is the only one-star rated airline in the world. Skytrax methodology indicates: "The Official 1 Star Airline® ranking signifies some very poor standards of Product across the ranking sectors, with poor, inconsistent standards of Staff Service delivery in Onboard and Airport environments." [11] Skytrax passenger reviews rate the airline 6.1 out of 10. This score was based on 5 passenger reviews. Older reviews were not factored into the score as they did not use the same rating format. It is not a SkyTrax approved quality airline. [12]


Inter-Korea flights

The first regular charter flights between North Korea and South Korea began in 2003. The first Air Koryo flight operated by a Tupolev Tu-154 touched down at Seoul's Incheon International Airport. Air Koryo operated 40 return services to Seoul, along with flights into Yangyang and Busan in South Korea.[13] Inter-Korean charters from Hamhung Airport to Yangyang International in South Korea began in 2002.[14] Yangyang has since been suspended, as Yangyang International Airport was closed in late 2008.


Air Koryo Tupolev Tu-204 (P-632) at Beijing Capital Airport
Air Koryo IL-62M (P-881) at Beijing Capital Airport

Air Koryo operates the following fleet as of February 2011[15]:

Air Koryo Fleet
Aircraft In Fleet Orders Passengers Notes
J Y Total
Antonov An-24 7 0 0 52 52 Five An-24RV's and two An-24R's
Ilyushin Il-18D 1 0 0 120 120 To be retired: 2011 - Still in use as of September '11
Ilyushin Il-62M 4 0 16 164 180 Two operated in VIP configuration for the state
Mil Mi-172 17 0 0 32 32
Tupolev Tu-134B-3 2 0 0 84 84
Tupolev Tu-154 4 0 16 136 152 Three Tu-154B's and One Tu-154B-2 (Two currently stored)
Tupolev Tu-204-300 1 0 8 134 142 P-632
Tupolev Tu-204-100B 1 1 0 210 210 P-633
Air Koryo Cargo Fleet
Ilyushin Il-18V 1 0 34.5 Tons cargo
Ilyushin Il-76TD 3 0 44 Tons cargo
Mil Mi-17 n/a 0 Unknown numbers operating solely for cargo operations
Total 41 1


Air Koryo Tu-204 cabin with LCD screens
Air Koryo Tu-204 and new low floor bus at FNJ

Air Koryo is searching for new aircraft to replace its aging fleet of Soviet-era planes. The new planes would be Russian-made, given the existence of sanctions from the US and the EU. Air Koryo is considering the Ilyushin Il-96, Tupolev Tu-204 (which have already been ordered) and Sukhoi Superjet 100s to replace their Tupolev Tu-154 and Tu-134 aircraft. The Tupolev Tu-204s are capable of flying to Moscow non-stop.[16] Air Koryo have also installed LCD screens in their Tu-204's which now show safety demonstrations and movies. Moreover, Air Koryo has purchased new airport low-floor buses.

In the recent Airliner world magazine, Air Koryo will be trying to gain EU certification to fly into EU airspace. This would give Air Koryo the chance to resume scheduled flights to Berlin in the future, which rights to enter the EU airspace were granted by the EU authorities in April 2010, after a 7-year period of being banned from EU airspace. In April 2011, Air Koryo launched its first services to Malaysia with the inauguration of flights from Pyongyang to Kuala Lumpur. The flights operate twice a week with Tu-204 aircraft.[17] Along with the new services to Kuala Lumpur, Air Koryo has also inagerated links to Kuwait city operated weekly.[10]

Tupolev Tu-204

The first Tupolev Tu-204-300 for Air Koryo was officially handed over to the carrier on 27 December 2007, and was ferried from Ulyanovsk to Pyongyang. It has been fitted out with 16 business class seats and the remaining 150 seats are economy. This is the first Tupolev Tu-204-300 to be exported out of Russia to Air Koryo.

The Tu-204 aircraft are currently scheduled on all international flights out of Pyongyang. With the arrival of the new aircraft, a new seasonal route to Singapore was introduced and the resumption of the Pyongyang-Bangkok route commenced in 2008. Its first revenue-earning flight was made on 8 May 2008. Air Koryo operates another version of the Tu-204 jet, being the Tu-204-100B, which is a longer version of their Tu-204-300. According to Avistar, Air Koryo will be taking delivery of a second Tupolev Tu-204-100B which is being constructed at Ulyanovsk and which is currently registered as RA-64013.[18]

On 4 March 2010, Air Koryo took delivery of the second Tu-204.[19] It started operating scheduled services the following day.[20]

On 30 March 2010, the EU approved two of Air Koryo's aircraft to operate into the European Union. The two Tupolev Tu-204s have been given the rights to operate into the European Union. The planned services to Germany could be resumed again with any of the two aircraft.[21]

Accidents and incidents

Air Koryo Il-76, Tu-204, Il-62, Tu-154 and Tu-134 at FNJ
  • On 1 July 1983, a CAAK (predecessor to Air Koryo) Ilyushin Il-62M on a non-scheduled international passenger flight from Pyongyang, North Korea (Sunan International Airport) to Conakry, Guinea (Conakry International Airport) crashed at the Fouta Djall Mountains in Guinea. All 23 persons on board were killed, and the aircraft was written off.[22]
  • On 15 August 2006, an aircraft from Air Koryo (Tupolev Tu-154B-2) on an international scheduled passenger flight from Beijing, People's Republic of China (Beijing Capital Airport) to Pyongyang, Democratic People's Republic of Korea (Sunan International Airport) experienced a runway mishap (exited runway) during landing rollout after landing in bad weather at Sunan International Airport. No injuries were reported and damage to the plane was minor.[23][24] On the same day, an Air Koryo Il-62M flying from the Chinese capital Beijing on a regular passenger flight sustained damage to a wing whilst landing at Pyongyang. Following a missed first approach, the crew made a second landing attempt during which part of the left wing of the Ilyushin contacted the runway. There were no injuries and the registration of the aircraft was not reported.[25]

European Union ban

Air Koryo is partially on the list of air carriers banned in the European Union.[26]

As of 30 March 2010, the EU will allow Air Koryo to operate into the European Union once again with two approved aircraft. The two aircraft will be Air Koryo's new Tupolev Tu-204s, registrations P-632 and P-633. The remaining fleet will continue to be barred from EU airspace and rights to land in the EU.[21]

The rationale for the decision by the European Commission was the following (paraphrased):

  • During ramp inspections in France and Germany, verified evidence of serious safety deficiencies on the part of Air Koryo was obtained. These deficiencies were also identified under the SAFA programme (DGAC/F 2000-2010).
  • During other subsequent ramp inspections performed under the SAFA programme, Air Koryo persistently failed to address these deficiencies which were previously communicated by France (DGAC/F-2000-895).
  • Incident-related information of a substantiated and serious nature communicated by France indicated that Air Koryo had latent systemic safety deficiencies.
  • There was a demonstrated lack of ability on the part of Air Koryo to address these safety deficiencies.
  • There was a failure on the part of Air Koryo to respond adequately and in a timely manner to an enquiry by the civil aviation authority of France regarding the safety aspect of its operation, which showed a lack of transparency or communication, which was also demonstrated by the absence of reply to a request by France.
  • The plan for corrective action presented by Air Koryo in response to France's request was not adequate and sufficient in order to correct the identified serious safety deficiencies.
  • The authorities of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea with responsibility for regulatory oversight have not exercised an adequate oversight over Air Koryo, which it is obliged to do under the Chicago Convention.
  • Therefore, and on the basis of the common criteria,[27] the Commission assessed that Air Koryo does not meet the relevant safety standards.[28]

See also


  1. ^ "» Pyongyang Airport provides flight service worldwide". Retrieved 9 October 2010. 
  2. ^ "Contact." Air Koryo. Retrieved on 6 August 2009. "Democratic People's Republic of Korea P'yongyang - Head office Air Koryo Sunan District P'yongyang"
  3. ^ a b "Directory: World Airlines". Flight International: p. 59. 27 March 2007. 
  4. ^ "Air Ticketing - The General Sales Agent of Singapore for Air Koryo". Retrieved 9 October 2010. 
  5. ^ "North Korea's quirky (and unsafe) Air Koryo survives and, increasingly, appears to thrive". International Herald Tribune. 29 March 2009. Retrieved 9 October 2010. 
  6. ^ "North Korean Economy Watch » Blog Archive » Air Koryo launches Shanghai-Pyongyang flights". 28 July 2010. Retrieved 9 October 2010. 
  7. ^ "2010年*上海=平壤8月散客*出团计划 行行摄摄 旅游摄影 出行旅游论坛". Retrieved 9 October 2010. 
  8. ^ "Photo ť P-814 (CN: 66368) Air Koryo Tupolev Tu-134 by LGY". Retrieved 9 October 2010. 
  9. ^ "Air Koryo allowed two aircraft in EU - 30/03/2010". 30 March 2010. Retrieved 9 October 2010. 
  10. ^ a b
  11. ^
  12. ^
  13. ^ "air koryo | 2003 | 2045 | Flight Archive". Retrieved 9 October 2010. 
  14. ^ "N. Korean plane to test-fly direct air route with South". Asia Africa Intelligence Wire. 20 July 2002. 
  15. ^
  16. ^ Aviation News September 2006[dead link]
  17. ^
  18. ^
  19. ^ "Самолёт Ту-204-100В передан авиакомпании "Air Koryo" - Аргументы и Факты". Retrieved 9 October 2010. 
  20. ^
  21. ^ a b Post a Job (30 March 2010). "EU Bans All Airlines From Philippines, Sudan in New Blacklist". BusinessWeek. Retrieved 9 October 2010. 
  22. ^ "Aviation Safety Database report". 1 July 1983. Retrieved 9 October 2010. 
  23. ^ FCO Country report - 15 August 2006 Tu 154 crash
  24. ^ Aviation Safety Database report - 15 August 2006 Tupolev 154 crash
  25. ^ [1]
  26. ^ "EU Upholds Flight Ban". Radio Free Asia. 13 January 2010. 
  27. ^ Fly Well portal (Which contains links to the common air transport policy)(English), European Commission, 22 March 2006
  28. ^ Commission Regulation (EC) No 474/2006 of 22 March 2006 (PDF-file)(English), European Commission, 22 March 2006

External links

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