Air China suspends all flights to North Korea

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Air China has canceled all flights to North Korea due to a lack of demand, the company said on Wednesday, leaving North Korea’s Air Koryo as the only airline to fly to the reclusive country.

Flights between Beijing and Pyongyang were suspended because “business was not good,” an airline spokesman told the Reuters news agency. He declined to say whether the airline plans to resume flights in the near future.

Air China began its service to Pyongyang in 2008 with flights on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, although flights were frequently canceled. Its decision to suspend flights leaves North Korea’s sole airline, Air Koryo, as the only way for foreigners to fly to North Korea.

A staff member at Air China’s office in Pyongyang told Reuters that the airline can resume flights as soon as there is enough demand. Its office in the North Korean capital will continue to operate normally even though no flights are currently scheduled.

North Korea had previously expressed hope to welcome as many as 1 million tourists by this year, but its efforts have been hampered by mounting UN sanctions and increased isolation. The United States and Malaysia recently moved to ban all of its citizens from traveling to North Korea.

As recently as 2015, North Korea received as many as 100,000 tourists a year, the vast majority of which came from neighboring China. The number of Westerners was on the rise at the time, but this year’s escalation of tensions and the U.S. travel ban will likely decrease interest.

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