BEIJING, Mar 16 (INP) Several airlines in China and South Korea have cut the number of flights to each other's country due to a sharp drop in passengers, amid a standoff over Seoul's decision to deploy the US Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) system.
Spring Airlines, China's leading budget carrier by revenue, will suspend flights from Ningbo, East China's Zhejiang Province to South Korea's Jeju Island for a month, starting from Wednesday, Zhang Wu'an, spokesman for the Shanghai-based airline, told the Chinese media on Wednesday.
The decision was made "in response to changes in the market," said Zhang, adding that the public outcry in China against the deployment of THAAD has obviously affected their bookings.
Public relations staff from Air China told the Global Times on Wednesday that flights to South Korea have not been cancelled, but that the routes might be changed depending on the demand.
Meanwhile, Seoul-based Korean Air will suspend eight routes to Chinese cities from Thursday to April 23, meaning 79 flights would be affected during the period, accounting for 6.5 percent of the company's total number of flights to China, Korea's Yonhap News Agency reported. South Korea's second largest full-service carrier, Asiana Airlines, also cancelled 90 flights to Chinese cities from Wednesday to April 30.
South Korea was the second most favored overseas destination for tourists from the Chinese mainland based on bookings, and Chinese tourists accounted for nearly half of the total number of foreigners visiting South Korea.
South Koreans have retaliated by boycotting popular Chinese products such as Xiaomi smartphones and Tsingtao Beer, South Korean media reported.