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Air Koryo

Air Koryo


Air Koryo was established first under the name Sokao which was founded in 1950 as a joint Soviet-North Korean concern to connect North Korea with Moscow. Services were suspended during the Korean war, to resume in 1953. The current airline was established in 1954 and started operations on 21 September 1955, and was placed under the control of the Civil Aviation Administration of Korea. CAAK began operations with Lisunov Li-2, Antonov An-2 and Ilyushin Il-12 aircraft. Ilyushin Il-14 and Ilyushin Il-18 turboprops were added to the fleet in the 1960s.


Jet operation 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 the sufficient range, the plane had to land not only at Irkutsk, but also at Novosibirsk. Along with the Tu-154, Tu-134s and An-24s were delivered to start domestic services. 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 were used in VIP configuration), allowing CAAK to offer a direct non-stop service to Moscow for the first time. During this period Sofia and Belgrade were also destinations.

Air Koryo (formerly Chosŏn Minhang (조선민항 | Корё Ханггонг (Koryo Khanggong)), short for Air Koryo) is the state-owned national flag carrier airline of North Korea, headquartered in Sunan-guyŏk, Pyongyang. It operates international services and charter flights to points in Asia and Africa. The carrier is based at Sunan International Airport (IATA: FNJ).

Air Koryo has offices in Beijing, Shenyang, Macau, Bangkok, Toronto, Berlin, Moscow, as well as sales agencies in Hong Kong, Kuala Lumpur, Singapore, Tokyo, Taipei, Khabarovsk and Vladivostok.


The end of the Cold War and the collapse of communism in Europe saw a vast reduction in the number of international services offered. CAAK became Air Koryo in 1993. Also in 1993 Air Koryo ordered 3 Ilyushin Il-76 cargo aircraft to carry extra cargo to its destinations in China and Russia. Air Koryo recently purchased 2 new Tupolev Tu-204 aircraft to replace the aging international fleet. Air Koryo has also started modernizing its fleet interiors. With the new Tu-204 Air Koryo would be able to fly to Europe

In September 2009 Air Koryo opted to order a further example of the Tu-204-300 aircraft and in addition a single Tupolev Tu-204-100. These aircraft will see to the replacement of aging aircraft in their current fleet. Air Koryo is also in talks over possible orders for Sukhoi Superjet 100 to replace the aging Tu-134 and An-24 aircraft.

Air Koryo will be receiving its first of two Tupolev Tu-204-100B aircraft fitted with 210 seats. The aircraft will be used to replace the aging aircraft currently in their fleet. Flights to Dalian, China have been added to the Air Koryo schedule with a twice weekly Tu-134 flights from Pyongyang and direct services from Pyongyang to Shanghai Pudong have been inaugurated with a two weekly service via JS522 and returning on JS523 opened this year.

On 30 March 2010, Air Koryo had two Tu-204 aircraft lifted from the European blacklist allowing the airline to recommence flights to Europe.


Inter-Korea flights

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. Inter-Korean charters from Hamhung Airport to Yangyang International in South Korea began in 2002. Yangyang has since been suspended as Yangyang International Airport was closed in late 2008.


Air Koryo operates 38 aircraft in its passenger fleet and 4+ in its cargo fleet (as of 26 July 2010):

Air Koryo Fleet
Aircraft In Fleet Orders Passengers
Antonov An-24 7 0 52 (0/52) Five An-24RV's and two An-24R's
Ilyushin Il-18D 1 0 120 (0/120) To be retired: 2010
Ilyushin Il-62M 4 0 180 (16/164) Two operated in VIP configuration for the state
Mil Mi-172 17 0 32 (0/32)  
Tupolev Tu-134B-3 2 0 84 (0/84)  
Tupolev Tu-154 4 0 152 (16/136) Three Tu-154B's and One Tu-154B-2
Tupolev Tu-204-300 1 0 166 (16/150) P-632
Tupolev Tu-204-100B 1 1 210 (0/210) P-633
Total 37 1  
Air Koryo Cargo Fleet
Aircraft In Fleet Capacity
Ilyushin Il-18V 1 34.5 Tons cargo  
Ilyushin IL-76TD 3 44 Tons cargo  
Mil Mi-17 17   Unknown numbers operating solely for cargo operations
Total 4  
  • Air Koryo only offers Business class seating on these specific aircraft types


Air Koryo is searching for new aircraft to replace its aging fleet of Soviet-era planes. The new planes would be Russian-made, given the existence of sanctions from the US and the EU. Air Koryo is considering the Ilyushin Il-96 (now not available in passenger version), Tupolev Tu-204 (which have already been ordered) and Sukhoi Superjet 100s to replace their Tupolev Tu-154 and Tu-134 aircraft. The Tupolev Tu-204s are capable of flying to Moscow non-stop. Air Koryo have also installed LCD screens in their Tu-204's which now show safety demonstrations and movies. Air Koryo has purchased new airport low floor buses. In the recent Airliner world magazine Air Koryo will be trying to gain EU certification to fly into EU airspace. This would give Air Koryo the chance to resume scheduled flights to Berlin in the future, which rights to enter the EU airspace were granted by the EU authorities in April 2010, after a 7 year period of being banned from EU airspace.

Tupolev Tu-204

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 8 business class seats and the remaining 145 seats are economy. This is the first Tupolev Tu-204-300 to be exported out of Russia, and Air Koryo has a firm order for another one.

The Tu-204-300, is now operating on the Pyongyang-Beijing, Pyongyang-Singapore (seasonal), Pyongyang-Shenyang and Pyongyang-Bangkok routes (which was resumed by the newly delivered Tupolev jet in 2007). Its first revenue earning flight was made on 8 May 2008. The range of the Tu-204-300 means Air Koryo can start flights to Tehran which is in planning. Air Koryo has another version of the Tu-204 jet being the Tu-204-100 which is a longer version of their Tu-204-300. According to Avistar, Air Koryo will be taking delivery of a second Tupolev TU-204-100B of which is being constructed at Ulyanovsk, the aircraft is currently registered RA-64013.

On 4 March 2010, Air Koryo took delivery of the second Tu-204. It started operating scheduled services the following day.

On 30 March 2010, the EU approved two of Air Koryo's aircraft to operate into the European Union. The two Tupolev Tu-204's 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.


Accidents and incidents

On 1 July 1983, a CAAK (predecessor to Air Koryo) Ilyushin 62M on a non-scheduled international passenger flight from Pyongyang, North Korea (Sunan International Airport) to Conakry, Guinea (Conakry International Airport) crashed at the Fouta Djall Mountains in Guinea. All 23 persons onboard were killed and the aircraft was written off.

On 15 August 2006, an aircraft from Air Koryo (Tupolev 154B-2) on an international scheduled passenger flight from Beijing, People's Republic of China (Beijing Capital Airport) to Pyongyang, Democratic People's Republic of Korea (Sunan International Airport) experienced a runway mishap (exited runway) during landing rollout after landing in bad weather at Sunan International Airport. No injuries were reported and damage to the plane was minor.On the same day, an Air Koryo Il-62M flying from the Chinese capital Beijing on a regular passenger flight sustained damage to a wing whilst landing at Pyongyang. Following a missed first approach, the crew made a second landing attempt during which part of the left wing of the Ilyushin contacted the runway. There were no injuries and the registration of the aircraft was not reported.


Air Koryo in the Beijing Airport 

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