Chinese budget carrier Spring Airlines plans North Korea route

Shanghai-based Spring Airlines has applied to launch a direct flight to the North Korean capital Pyongyang, making it the first budget airline and the third airline to run scheduled flights to the country, according to the civil aviation authority.

The budget carrier hopes to launch four flights a week using an Airbus 320 from its hub, Shanghai's Pudong airport, in early February, 2016, although the proposal is pending approval from both the North Korean authorities and the Civil Aviation Administration of China, a Spring Airlines spokesman said.

North Korea's state airline, Air Koryo, runs regular flights between Pyongyang and Beijing and occasionally operates seasonal routes to Shanghai, Kuala Lumpur and Vladivostok. Air China Ltd operates two flights a week to Pyongyang, three in the summer.

"Air Koryo had launched some charter flights to North Korea previously, targeting leisure travelers and demand seemed to be pretty strong," a Spring Airlines spokesman said on Tuesday.