SOUTH AND NORTH Korea are expected finally to conclude an agreement before the end of the month which , for the first time, will allow commercial air traffic to move between the two countries' Flight Information Regions (FIR).

The two sides are scheduled to meet again, together with the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO), in Bangkok between 27 and 29 November. It is widely expected that a letter of agreement (LoA) will be signed, possibly in the presence of ICAO council president Assad Kotaite.

The ICAO-brokered deal establishes traffic hand-off procedures between the North Korean Pyongyang FIR and the southern Taegu FIR. It provides for direct voice, data and facsimile satellite-communications between the two countries' air-traffic-control centres.

The signing of the LoA will clear the way for the start of trial flights in December by Cathay Pacific Airways, Delta Air Lines, Korean Air, Northwest Airlines, Singapore Airlines and United Airlines. The trials had been due in September, but were cancelled after Seoul demanded that Pyongyang sign a procedural LoA (Flight International, 4-10 September, P26).

Source: Flight International