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S. Korea, Taiwan agree to expand flights

South Korea has reached an agreement with Taiwan to further expand air travel between the two countries, the government said Friday.

   The agreement reached in Seoul involves opening new flight services and increasing the number of seats available on existing routes that have been cited for being chronically congested, the Ministry of Land, Transport and Maritime Affairs said.

   Under the latest pact, the two sides will open flights linking Seoul's Gimpo International Airport with Taipei's Songshan Airport.

The airports are within the city limits of the capitals and can help cut back on travel time for passengers by about one hour.

   "The Gimpo-Songshan is expected to be open around March 2012, with seven weekly flights to be permitted for each airline from the two countries," the ministry said.

   It added that the current route connecting Incheon International Airport with Taoyuan International Airport will be expanded so both South Korean and Taiwanese airline companies can accommodate 5,500 passengers per week, from the current 4,500.

   The 4,500 passenger limit was set in 2004 and has not been changed since then.

   The move will involve increasing the number of flights allocated to each side's air carriers from 18 to 22 every week.

   The ministry, meanwhile, said a review board on air traffic management will be held to allocate the increase in flights.

   Competition is expected to be stiff since average flights between the Asian neighbors were about 84 percent full as of last year.

   At present, Korean Air Lines Co., South Korea's largest flag carrier and No. 2 Asiana Airlines Inc. operate flight services between the two countries.

(Yonhap News)

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