S. Korea approves international non-landing scenic flights for one year

By Lim Chang-won Posted : November 20, 2020, 08:19 Updated : November 20, 2020, 08:19

[Courtesy of Korean Air]

SEOUL -- Korean Air and other domestic airlines were allowed to go ahead with international non-landing scenic flights just for local residents for a year to help ease their financial woes caused by a prolonged COVID-19 pandemic that has grounded regular overseas travelers. Foreigners cannot apply and passengers will be given the same duty-free benefits as regular travelers.

Non-landing scenic flights were adopted in many countries to ease the stress of travelers who are frustrated by the pandemic that forced many countries to regulate travelers from coming in and going out. The Seoul government has received applications from six domestic companies -- Korean Air, Asiana, Jeju Air, Jin Air, T'way Airlines and Air Busan.

In a conference on November 19, policymakers from related ministries, including the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport, approved international non-landing scenic flights to support South Korea's aviation, tourism and duty-free industries, which have been in an unprecedented crisis this year. Airlines should acquire permission to fly through the airspace of other countries.

"At a time when a new breakthrough in the aviation and tourism sector is needed, we will jointly push for overseas non-landing international tourism flights with related ministries," Kim Sang-do, who heads the aviation policy department at the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport, told reporters. "We will actively support each airline so that international tourism flights can be made within this year."

Strict quarantine management is required when travelers leave Incheon International Airport, South Korea's main gateway located west of Seoul. There will be no virus tests and quarantine measures after re-entry, but it will be mandatory to wear masks all the way. Passengers should use designated toilets, separated routes and an automatic immigration checkpoint.

Duty-free items can be purchased at shops in departure and arrival halls as well as in cities. The number of visitors to each duty-free store will be limited and in-flight duty-free shops will sell only pre-booked items.
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