Singapore Airlines has changed the route of its Seoul-Los Angeles flights because of North Korean missile tests over the Sea of Japan, the airline revealed Tuesday.
Singapore Airlines said they changed the flight’s route following North Korea’s July 27 missile test, which plummeted into the sea east of the Korean Peninsula, Channel NewsAsia reported.
North Korea, which joined the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) in 1977, is required to notify the organization of any activity that could threaten the safety of international civil aviation. However, the pariah state has repeatedly ignored international guidelines, firing 23 missiles since February as it tests its rapidly accelerating missile program.
In October, the ICAO condemned Pyongyang for its continued launching of ballistic missiles and urged the country to comply with international aviation standards.
The most recent test took place November 29 and was sighted by airline crews on at least three commercial flights by Korean Air and Cathay Pacific. The missile flew about 1,000 km before landing in Japan’s maritime Economic Exclusion Zone, reports claim.
According to Mark Hoey, Cathay Pacific’s general manager of operations, the message from the passenger plane crew to the staff on ground after the November test was: “Be advised, we witnessed the DPRK missile blow up and fall apart near our current location,” the South China Morning Post reported.
Despite their planes’ close proximity to these tests, Cathay Pacific is not planning on following Singapore Airlines’ lead and changing its routes any time soon.
“Singapore Airlines is aware of the reports on the sighting of the North Korean missiles and is closely monitoring the situation,” a spokesperson told Channel NewsAsia.
“Currently, our flight routings do not transverse in the vicinity of the missile trajectory as we have taken earlier steps to avoid the northern part of the Sea of Japan. The safety of our passengers and crew are our utmost priority and we will re-route our flights when necessary,” the spokesperson added.
On Monday, US and South Korean forces started major aerial drills on the Korean Peninsula. According to China’s People’s Liberation Army Air Force (PLAAF) spokesman Shen Jinke, China’s Air Force has also conducted its own drills, flying “routes and areas it has never flown before.” Jinke did not specify the dates, times or locations of China’s recent military exercises.
A Beijing military analyst told the South China Morning Post that “the timing of the high-profile announcement by the PLA[AF] is also a warning to Washington and Seoul not to provoke Pyongyang any further.”
North Korea’s recent test missile’s apogee was “higher, frankly, than any previous shot they have taken,” US Defense Secretary James Mattis said following the test, adding that Pyongyang could launch an international ballistic missile “everywhere in the world, basically.”