May 8 (UPI) — South Korea confirmed North Korea is looking to open an international flight route so planes bound for Incheon, the South Korean city home to the country’s flagship airport, can fly over North Korean territory.
Seoul’s foreign ministry spokesman Noh Kyu-duk told reporters at a regular press briefing the North is looking into opening its airspace to international flights leaving and arriving from the South.
South Korea’s land and transport ministry are preparing for talks, according to Yonhap.
The North Korean proposal to the International Civil Aviation Organization to connect flight information regions could shorten flight time and cut down on fuel costs.
One official at Seoul’s transport ministry told Yonhap that the inter-Korea issue is being submitted to ICAO because “there is no South-North channel” for talks.
The savings for commercial flights could be significant.
North Korea charges about $740 for each flight that enters its airspace, but the use of North Korea airspace also reduces flight distance by 100 to 300 miles, which could create about $15 million in savings for South Korean airlines, according to Yonhap.
Seoul Pyongyang News reported Tuesday during the briefing Noh confirmed the discussions were centered on airspace use, and not the creation of a direct route between Seoul and Pyongyang.
International and unilateral South Korean sanctions against North Korea are still being enforced.
South Korea banned the use of North Korea airspace for aircraft coming in and out of the country’s airports in 2010, following the torpedoing of the South Korean warship Cheonan.