North Korea's Air Koryo opens online booking

SEOUL Wed Oct 24, 2012 1:41am EDT

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SEOUL Oct 24 (Reuters) - The world's only one star airline, North Korea's Air Koryo, has finally joined the Internet age with an online booking service, offering flights to and from the isolated state to Beijing and Shenyang in China as well as Vladivostok in Russia.

The website (www.airkoryo.com.kp/en/home) says it started operations in August and promises "a convenient reservation ... day and night".

Air Koryo is the only airline ranked as a one-star service by Skytrax global airline ranking, a rating that represents "very poor quality performance".

The airline uses mainly Russian-built Tupolev aircraft on its international flights although older, Soviet-era aircraft are also still used domestically.

Few North Koreans are allowed to travel outside their impoverished state.

North Korea expert Leonid Petrov was quoted on North Korea-watching website NK News (www.nknews.org) as saying: "Clearly, this website is created with the purpose to impress the people who have never thought of traveling to Pyongyang".

A business class flight to Beijing was listed online at a price of $374, a lot for a country where annual gross domestic product per capita is estimated at $1,800. (Writing by David Chance; Editing by Robert Birsel)

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