Air Koryo

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Air Koryo
Air Koryo logo.gif
IATA ICAO Callsign
Founded 1950 (1950) (as Sokao)
Operating bases Pyongyang Sunan International Airport
Fleet size 4
Destinations 54
Headquarters Pyongyang, North Korea
Key people
  • An Pyong-chil (Director of the General Bureau of Civil Aviation)[1]
Air Koryo
Chosŏn'gŭl 고려항공
Hancha 高麗航空
Revised Romanization Goryeo Hanggong
McCune–Reischauer Koryŏ Hanggong

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

Air Koryo has offices in Beijing, Shanghai and Shenyang, China; Moscow and Vladivostok, Russia; and Berlin, Germany.[4]



In early 1950, SOKAO (Soviet–North Korean Airline, 소련-조선항공, 蘇聯-朝鮮航空) was established as a joint North Korean-Soviet venture to connect Pyongyang with Moscow.[5][6] Regular flights began that same year.[7] Services were suspended during the Korean War, resuming in 1953 as UKAMPS. The state airline was then placed under the control of the Civil Aviation Administration of Korea (CAAK), starting operations on 21 September 1955 with Lisunov Li-2, Antonov An-2 and Ilyushin Il-12 aircraft. Ilyushin Il-14s and Ilyushin Il-18s were added to the fleet in the 1960s.[3][6][8]

Jet operations[edit]

Jet operations 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 sufficient range, the aircraft had to refuel at Irkutsk and Novosibirsk. Tu-134s and An-24s were also delivered to start domestic services.[citation needed]

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 are used in VIP configuration), allowing CAAK to offer a direct non-stop service to Moscow for the first time, as well as serving Sofia and Belgrade.[citation needed]

The Tu-204 is the only aircraft the airline is allowed to operate on services to the European Union.[9]


The end of the Cold War and the collapse of communism in Eastern Europe saw a vast reduction in the number of international services offered. CAAK was re-branded as Air Koryo in March 1992 and in 1993, ordered three Ilyushin Il-76 freight aircraft to carry cargo to and from its destinations in China and Russia.

Air Koryo purchased a Tupolev Tu-204-300 aircraft in December 2007 and another in March 2010 to replace its aging international fleet. With the Tu-204, Air Koryo would be able to fly to Europe.[10][11]

Air Koryo Il-62, Il-76, Tu-134, Tu-154 and Tu-204 at Sunan International Airport.

In September 2009, Air Koryo ordered a further example of the Tupolev Tu-204-300 aircraft and a single Tupolev Tu-204-100. Air Koryo was also in talks over possible orders for Superjet 100 aircraft to replace the ageing Tu-134 and An-24 aircraft.[citation needed]

Air Koryo was to receive its first of two Tupolev Tu-204-100B aircraft fitted with 210 seats. Flights to Dalian, China, were added to the Air Koryo schedule. Also, twice weekly Tu-134 flights from Pyongyang and direct services from Pyongyang to Shanghai Pudong were inaugurated with a two weekly service on JS522 and returning on JS523[12][13] in 2010.[14]

New service[edit]

In 2011, Air Koryo inaugurated services to Kuala Lumpur and Kuwait City, both being operated weekly by Tupolev Tu-204 aircraft. The services operate during peak travel season - April to October.[15]

In 2012, Air Koryo resumed flights to Kuala Lumpur, but ceased the service in 2014 along with its expansion into Harbin, China.[16][17] In 2012, Juche Travel Services, a company operating tours to North Korea, launched "aviation enthusiast" tours using chartered Air Koryo aircraft, which offered visitors the chance to fly on every variety of Air Koryo aircraft within North Korea, the Mil-17, An-24, Tu-134, Tu-154 and Il-62. The international services were operated by An-148, Tu-154 or Tu-204.[citation needed]

In 2017, during the rule of North Korea leader Kim Jong-un, there were signs that Air Koryo was branching out into commercial sectors beyond aviation, providing goods and services as diverse as petrol stations, taxis, tobacco, soft drinks, and tinned pheasant meat.[18][19]


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.[20] Inter-Korean charters from Hamhung's Sondok Airport to Yangyang International in South Korea began in 2002.[21] Currently, there are no inter-Korean flights, due to laws in both countries. In 2014, Air Koryo operated a series of services to Seoul Incheon International Airport with Tu-204 and An-148 aircraft for the Asian Games; the North Korean Government Ilyushin Il-62M also appeared at ICN during the same period carrying officials.[citation needed]

Air Koryo operated an airline interline partnership with Aeroflot (SkyTeam) on services radiating from Vladivostok and Pyongyang until 2017 after it was forced to close the agreement due to newly imposed sanctions. [22][23]


Air Koryo operates the following fleet as of August 2017:[24]

Air Koryo Fleet
Aircraft In Service Orders Passengers Notes
C Y Total
Antonov An-24R/RV 3 52 52
Antonov An-148-100B 2 8 62 70
Ilyushin Il-18D 1
Ilyushin Il-62M 2 12 178 190
Tupolev Tu-134B-3 2 76 76
Tupolev Tu-154B 2 16 136 152
Tupolev Tu-204-100B 1 12 210 222
Tupolev Tu-204-300 1 16 150 166
Air Koryo Cargo Fleet
Ilyushin Il-76TD [25] 3
Total 19


Air Koryo Tu-204 and new Low-Floor Bus at Pyongyang Sunan International Airport.

Air Koryo is considering upgrading their fleet by purchasing new aircraft. The new planes would most likely be Russian-made, given the existence of sanctions from the United States (where Boeing is located), the European Union (EU) (where Airbus is located) and Canada (where Bombardier Inc. is located). Air Koryo is considering the Ilyushin Il-96 and Sukhoi Superjet 100 aircraft. The Tupolev Tu-204s are capable of flying to Moscow non-stop.[26] Air Koryo have also installed LCD screens in their Tu-204s which now show safety demonstrations and films. Recently, the airline have began to modernise their ground transportation by purchasing new low-floor airport buses.[citation needed]

Rights to enter the EU airspace using certain aircraft were granted by the EU authorities in April 2010, after a seven-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.[27] Along with the new services to Kuala Lumpur, Air Koryo has also inaugurated links to Kuwait City operated weekly.[15]

In October 2012, the airline launched its first online booking service.[28] In the first quarter of 2013, Air Koryo had received their first Antonov An-148 aircraft, and their second in the final quarter of 2013.[29]

In 2017, Air Koryo launched a new styled livery for its aircraft which are adorned on all types besides the Tu-204 aircraft. The new livery features a tail flag logo that appears to be flapping in the wind, lower cheatline and over all whiter euro-white style fuselage. This coincided with the Wonsan international air show that was held at the newly opened Wonsan Kalma Airport.

Tupolev Tu-204[edit]

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 was the first Tupolev Tu-204-300 to be exported from Russia.[citation needed]

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, a Tu-204-100B, which they took delivery of on 4 March 2010. The Tu-204-100B is a longer version of the Tu-204-300.[30] It started operating scheduled services on 5 March 2010.[31]

On 30 March 2010, the two Tupolev Tu-204 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.[32]

Accidents and incidents[edit]

European Union ban[edit]

Due to safety and maintenance concerns, Air Koryo was added to the list of air carriers banned in the European Union in March 2006. The European Commission found evidence of serious safety deficiencies on the part of Air Koryo during ramp inspections in France and Germany. Air Koryo persistently failed to address these issues during other subsequent ramp inspections performed by the EU under the SAFA programme, pointing to blatant systemic safety deficiencies at Air Koryo operations. The airline failed to reply to an inquiry by the French Civil Aviation Authority regarding its safety operations, pointing to a lack of transparency or communication on the part of Air Koryo. The plan by Air Koryo for corrective action, presented in response to France's request, was found to be inadequate and insufficient. The EC also held that North Korean authorities did not adequately oversee the flag carrier, which it was obliged to do under the Chicago Convention. Therefore, on the basis of the common criteria,[37] the Commission assessed that Air Koryo did not meet the relevant safety standards.[38]

In March 2010, Air Koryo was allowed to resume operations into the EU with their Tu-204 aircraft, which were fitted with the necessary equipment to comply with mandatory international standards. Currently, the Tu-204 is the only aircraft Air Koryo operate that is allowed into EU airspace.[32][39][40]

Airline rating[edit]

Air Koryo was the only one-star airline among 681 airlines rated and reviewed by Skytrax in 2014.[41] Air Koryo had held this rating for four years in a row.[42]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "» Pyongyang Airport provides flight service worldwide". Retrieved 9 October 2010.
  2. ^ "Contact Archived 5 June 2011 at the Wayback Machine.." 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. 27 March 2007. p. 59.
  4. ^ "Airkoryo Offices". Retrieved 12 February 2018.
  5. ^ Davies, R. E. G. (1997). Airlines of Asia: Since 1920. London: Putnam. p. 534. ISBN 978-0-85177-855-6.
  6. ^ a b "World Airlines Survey". Flight International: 512. 13 April 1961. Retrieved 5 October 2014.
  7. ^ MacDonald, Hugh (1975). Aėroflot: Soviet air transport since 1923. London: Putnam. p. 66. ISBN 978-0-370-00117-3.
  8. ^ "WORLD AIRLINES SURVEY". Flight International. IPC Transport Press Limited: 567. 10 April 1969. Retrieved 21 August 2016.
  9. ^ "List of airlines subject to an operating ban or operational restrictions within the European Union" (PDF). European Commission for Transport. European Commission. Archived from the original (PDF) on 5 December 2012. Retrieved 17 June 2016.
  10. ^ Air Koryo Asian Info, Retrieved 25 January 2015
  11. ^ "North Korea's quirky (and unsafe) Air Koryo survives and, increasingly, appears to thrive". International Herald Tribune. 29 March 2009. Retrieved 9 October 2010.
  12. ^ "North Korean Economy Watch » Blog Archive » Air Koryo launches Shanghai-Pyongyang flights". 28 July 2010. Retrieved 9 October 2010.
  13. ^ "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". Archived from the original on 7 July 2011. Retrieved 9 October 2010.
  14. ^ "Photo ť P-814 (CN: 66368) Air Koryo Tupolev Tu-134 by LGY". Retrieved 9 October 2010.
  15. ^ a b "Al - Malek International Group". Archived from the original on 8 July 2011. Retrieved 25 October 2012.
  16. ^ JL (23 February 2012). "Air Koryo to Start Pyongyang – Harbin Charter service from late-Apr 2012 | Airline Route – Worldwide Airline Route Updates". Retrieved 15 August 2013.
  17. ^ JL (19 March 2012). "Air Koryo S12 Operation Changes to Kuala Lumpur | Airline Route – Worldwide Airline Route Updates". Retrieved 15 August 2013.
  18. ^ O'Carroll, Chad (6 June 2017). "N. Korean airline introduces tinned pheasant line, opens Pyongyang shop". NK News.
  19. ^ Harris, Bryan (2017). "North Korea begins journey from feudalism to crony capitalism". Financial Times. Retrieved June 22, 2017. Air Koryo, the national airline, which also runs one of Pyongyang’s handful of taxi companies and recently began selling tinned pheasant, also fits the bill.
  20. ^ "air koryo | 2003 | 2045 | Flight Archive". Retrieved 9 October 2010.
  21. ^ "N. Korean plane to test-fly direct air route with South". Asia Africa Intelligence Wire. 20 July 2002.
  22. ^ "Booking search - Aeroflot". Retrieved 12 February 2018.
  23. ^ "Sanctions force Aeroflot to axe Air Koryo interline deal". Retrieved 12 February 2018.
  24. ^ "✈ наша авиация". Retrieved 2018-02-12.
  25. ^ "Facebook". Retrieved 24 April 2015.
  26. ^ "Aviation News". September 2006. Archived from the original on 1 November 2007.
  27. ^ [1] Archived 26 April 2011 at the Wayback Machine.
  28. ^ "'World's worst airline' launches online booking". Telegraph. 31 May 2011. Retrieved 25 October 2012.
  29. ^ "✈ наша авиация". Retrieved 15 August 2013.
  30. ^ "Самолёт Ту-204-100В передан авиакомпании "Air Koryo" – Аргументы и Факты". Retrieved 9 October 2010.
  31. ^ "". Archived from the original on 10 July 2011. Retrieved 17 April 2010.
  32. ^ a b "EU Bans All Airlines From Philippines, Sudan in New Blacklist". BusinessWeek. 30 March 2010. Archived from the original on 29 September 2010. Retrieved 9 October 2010.
  33. ^ "Aviation Safety Database report P-551". 30 June 1979. Retrieved 14 August 2015.
  34. ^ "Aviation Safety Database report P-889". 1 July 1983. Retrieved 9 October 2010.
  35. ^ "Around the World: 23 Killed in Guinea Crash Of a North Korean Plane". The New York Times. UPI. 6 July 1983. ISSN 0362-4331. Archived from the original on 6 January 2016.
  36. ^ "North Korean Air Koryo plane makes emergency landing in China". Reuters. 22 July 2016.
  37. ^ Fly Well portal Archived 25 July 2006 at the Wayback Machine. (Which contains links to the common air transport policy)(in English), European Commission, 22 March 2006
  38. ^ Commission Regulation (EC) No 474/2006 of 22 March 2006 (PDF-file)(in English), European Commission, 22 March 2006
  39. ^ "Commission updates the list of airlines banned from the European airspace". Europa Press Release Database. 30 March 2010.
  40. ^ "EU Upholds Flight Ban". Radio Free Asia. 13 January 2010.
  41. ^ "Airline Rating". Skytrax. Retrieved 7 December 2013.
  42. ^ (22 January 2015) And the very worst airline in the world is... Traveller24, Retrieved 25 January 2015

External links[edit]