South Korean airlines are to comply with China’s new air defence zone after Seoul reversed its policy and dropped objections.
Korean Air, Asiana and several low-cost airlines yesterday said they had started submitting flight plans to China for aircraft flying through the zone.
China angered the US, Japan and South Korea last month by creating an “air defence identification zone” without advance consultations at a time when Sino-Japanese tensions remain high over a maritime territorial dispute.
The Chinese zone covers much of the East China Sea, including the Japanese-controlled Senkaku Islands, which are also claimed by China where they are known as the Diaoyu. It also overlaps with zones created by Japan and South Korea.
Seoul originally told its airlines not to comply with the Chinese zone, which differs from others by requiring flight plans even when an aircraft is not destined for China. On Wednesday, however, the South Korean transport ministry abandoned that stance, telling airlines they were free to comply if they wished Japan Airlines and All Nippon Airways, Japan’s two international carriers, initially complied with the zone, but reversed course under pressure from Tokyo. Yesterday, they said they would continue to flout the Chinese guidelines.
South Korea’s transport ministry cited safety concerns, noting tensions had heightened after Seoul announced it was expanding its own defence zone.
大韩航空(Korean Air)、韩亚航空(Asiana Airlines)以及几家低成本航空公司昨天表示，他们已开始为飞过该区域的飞机向中国提交飞行计划。