Korean Air's move came a day after its domestic rival, Asiana Airlines, decided to suspend routes from an international airport in the western port city of Incheon to three Chinese cities -- Gulin, Haikou and Changsha. Air Seoul, a budget carrier unit of Asiana, suspended flights to two Chinese cities -- Zhangjiajie and Linyi.
Korean Air said on Thursday that it would suspend services on routes: from Incheon to Huangshan, Zhangjiajie, Changsha and Kunming; from Busan to Beijing and Nanjing; and from Jeju to Beijing. The airline will reduce flights from Incheon to Qingdao, Shenyang and Beijing as well as flights from Busan to Qingdao and Shanghai.
Korean Air has operated 33 routes from South Korea to 25 Chinese cities.
Travel demand from China remained weak due to a diplomatic row over the deployment of an advanced U.S. anti-missile system called THAAD in South Korea in 2017. However, government data showed that the number of passengers on Chinese routes jumped 14 percent to 18.4 million in 2019 from 16.1 million a year earlier.
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