• Air China Flights

Air China Flights (Photo : Getty Images)

Air China, one of the three large state-owned carriers, announced that it will offer flights to North Korea again following a short suspension.

On April 14, the carrier said that it would not sell flights to Pyongyang due to poor sales. After nearly two weeks, Air China’s official website re-opened for flight bookings to North Korea’s capital starting May 5.

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The brief suspension caught attention as the announcement was made amid the increasing tensions between the U.S. and North Korea. China has been continuously urged by U.S. President Donald Trump to exert more effort in pressuring Kim Jong-un’s regime to put an end to its nuclear ambitions.

However, Air China’s move cannot be directly linked to political calculations in Beijing since there were no official indications connecting the two.

At the time of the suspension, a carrier representative said that it would “schedule flights on this route based on passenger demand.”

The flights were very few to start with. The airlines offer three Beijing-Pyongyang round trips per week. According to the carrier’s official website, the number of round-trip flights will be down to two a week from May 5 to Oct. 27.

Air China did not give any comments yet.

If China really intended to use air transport to convey a message to Kim’s regime, it could simply command North Korea’s national carrier, Air Koryo, to halt flights to several Chinese cities.

According to Tong Zhao, a fellow at the Carnegie-Tsinghua Center for Global Policy in Beijing, such action would not subvert North Korea’s economy.

Instead, it would be symbolic and “further undermine North Korea's communication with the outside world,” Tong added.

On Monday, Trump appealed to the members of the U.N. Security Council to enforce new sanctions for North Korea’s nuclear and ballistic programs, saying that the country is “a real threat to the world.”

As Air China lifts the temporary suspension of flights to North Korea, Beijing keeps its good relations with Pyongyang.