An official message sent in Hong Kong late on Tuesday designated six areas of the airspace as “danger zones,” according to carriers who received the message and Jang Chang Seog, an official with the Korean Ministry of Transport. Flights are limited from August 4 at noon to August 7 at noon.
Pelosi flew to Taipei as the top US politician to visit Taiwan in 25 years, prompting China to condemn the visit and reveal a range of economic and military responses. China considers the island, a vibrant democracy and a major supplier of semiconductors, part of the country. Taiwan remains the most sensitive issue between the US and China, with the potential to one day provoke military conflict.
China’s Xiamen Airlines Co announced adjustments to several flights, citing “flow control” in Fujian, across the Taiwan Strait from the island. Pilots from Cathay Pacific Airways Ltd were advised to carry an additional 30 minutes of fuel for possible re-routing in Taiwan.
Calls and messages to the Chinese Civil Aviation Authority were not immediately answered.
Further north, Korean Air plans to divert some of its services to South Asia to avoid Taiwan’s airspace during the period of Chinese military exercises, a spokeswoman said by text message. ANA Holdings Inc has received the notice and is changing its flight routes to Taiwan, a representative of the Japanese airline said. ANA and Japan Airlines Co both said flights to and from Taiwan will continue to operate.
Taiwan is in talks with Japan and the Philippines about alternative air traffic routes, ETtoday reported, citing Wang Kwo-tsai, Minister of Transport and Communications. The Taiwan Maritime Port Bureau also warned ships to avoid the area where the exercises will take place, Wang said.
Local branches of China’s maritime security administration have also issued multiple warnings for ships crossing certain areas, citing military exercises and target practice, according to government statements.
The aircraft disruption came as tensions between the US and China escalate as companies grapple with global supply chain problems caused by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. It is not clear whether the three-day no-fly zone will be extended, raising concerns about rising raw material prices and supply chain risks.
At Xiamen Gaoqi International Airport, one of the mainland airports closest to Taiwan, 123 flights were canceled while 79% of flights continued as usual, data provider Variflight said. At Fuzhou Changle International Airport in Fujian, 93 flights were canceled and 74% were operating normally.
In response to the report, South Korea’s Ministry of Transportation has sent another message to local airlines to reconfirm the safety of flights to Taiwan, Jang said. Asiana Airlines, another major Korean airline, has not yet made any changes to its operations, a spokesman said on the phone.