Chinese airlines have withdrawn plans to run chartered flights to South Korea for the busy Chinese New Year holiday season next month, the transport ministry said Saturday.
Two Chinese air carriers -- China Southern Airlines and China Eastern Air -- rolled back requests for the South Korean government to approve their plans to run chartered flights to South Korea a day earlier, according to the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport.
The companies cited "internal Chinese environment" as reasons for the cancellation, the ministry said.
Chartered flights are operated upon government approval, usually in busy travel seasons. The latest requests were filed ahead of the Chinese New Year holiday season in late January when a great number of Chinese are expected to travel to South Korea.
The cancellation took place simultaneously as the Chinese government rejected approval for South Korean airlines' similar requests to run non-scheduled flights between the countries in January.
The Chinese disapproval delivered to three South Korean air carriers -- Korean Air Lines, Asiana Airlines and Jeju Air -- on Friday was critically portrayed by the South Korean media as retaliation for Seoul's decision to deploy the Terminal-High Altitude Area Defense, an advanced U.S. missile shield, on the Korean Peninsula.
"Usually, both countries communicate before (any decision) on the chartered flight issue, but this time we didn't and were also given no specific reason for the disapproval," a ministry official said.
The official said South Korean diplomats in China are contacting local airlines and trying to find out why the decision was made.