The number of international passengers using Gimhae International Airport in the southeastern port city of Busan has risen sharply this year despite a drop in Chinese tourists, industry data showed Tuesday.
As many as 5.24 million passengers used international flights through Gimhae in the first seven months of this year, according to statistics provided by the Korea Airports Corp.
The number represents a 12.9 percent hike from a year earlier.
Gimhae International Airport passenger terminal (Yonhap)
Gimpo International Airport and Jeju International Airport, meanwhile, reported decreases of 168,371 and 760,000 in passengers, respectively, this year.
The strong performance of Gimhae is attributed to the whopping 112 percent and 64 percent rise of passengers from Australia and Russia, respectively.
The number of Chinese passengers using the airport, meanwhile, has fallen 8.5 percent this year.
Most of South Korea's provincial airports are still coping with the drop in passenger traffic due to China's ban on package tours over a diplomatic row linked to the deployment of an advanced anti-missile system.
China has for the past months also restricted imports of a number of South Korean-made goods and forced most of the 99 stores of Lotte Mart, the discount outlet chain of Lotte Group, operating in China to close, citing violations of safety regulations.
Beijing sees the installation of the US Terminal High Altitude Area Defense battery on South Korean soil as a security threat, although Seoul insists the missile defense system is aimed at countering North Korea's missile threats. (Yonhap)