Air Koryo was founded in 1955. All existing airline pilots are ex-military pilots converted to civilian service. The airline is 100% state owned and operates primarily from Pyongyang Sunan International Airport. The official website is www.airkoryo.com.kp .
Due to sanctions and limited flights, air ticket prices have become prohibitively expensive. A short 90 minutes return flight from Beijing to Pyongyang covering approximately 900 km (560 mi) costs around 550€ (600USD). It practically costs me the same price to fly 4500 km (2800 mi) from Singapore to Beijing. That means visiting North Korea costs me 1100€ (1200USD) just to get there! Air China also operates flights to North Korea but they’re even more expensive than Air Koryo.
I’ve flown Air Koryo so many times that some of the flight attendants recognize my face. The service I’ve received is extremely good and flight attendants go out of their way to make my journey comfortable, coming back often to ask if I need anything else.
Air Koryo does have business class with wider seats, more legroom and better in-flight menu. Economy class passengers get to try their famous Air Koryo’s burger, which tastes somewhat like beef and onions.
Air Koryo maintains a fleet of Russian aircraft which includes the:
- Antonov An-24
- Antonov An-148
- Ilyushin Il-18
- Ilyushin Il-62
- Tupolev Tu-134
- Tupolev Tu-154
- Tupolev Tu-204
- Ilyushin Il-76.
- Mil Mi-17 Transport Helicopter.
To see my collection of Air Koryo related photos, visit my Facebook link: https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.213863755404127&type=3
Featured Aircraft: Air Koryo Ilyushin Il-18
The Il-18 is used for domestic flights. It is perhaps the best known Soviet turboprop airliner of its era. Having first flown in 1957 and still in civilian use over 60 years later, its durable air-frame means that many such planes clocked over 45,000 flight hours. Click the link below to have a 360-degree view of the cockpit.
Featured aircraft: Air Koryo – Ilyushin Il-76
The Il-76 is a multi-purpose strategic air-lifter. It has a rear hydraulic ramp for vehicles to drive right in to load cargo. Its robust air-frame allows it to take off and land on unpaved and short airstrips. The Il-76 is well suited for transporting anything from large factory machinery to military vehicles. Click the link below to have a 360-degree view of the cargo hold and cockpit.
Featured Aircraft: Mil Mi-17
This is a North Korean variant of the Mil Mi-17. Normally the Mi-17 can transport up to 30 troops or up to 4,000 kg but this variant has been customized for “luxury use” and ferries 14 passengers.
Featured Aircraft: Antonov An-24
The Antonov An-24 is a 44 seater, twin turboprop passenger aircraft designed in 1957 in the Soviet Union. This North Korean variant is currently used only for domestic flights. The video below shows one landing in Wonsan Kalma Airport,
Featured Aircraft: Tupolev Tu 204
The Tupolev Tu-204 is a twin-engine, medium-range passenger airliner with a maximum capacity of 210 passengers. This is Air Koryo’s workhorse plane for international flights. The video shown below is of an Tu-204 taking off at Pyongyang’s Sunan International Airport
Featured Aircraft: Ilyushin Il-62
Perhaps the most unique and beautiful of all Soviet-era passenger aircraft would be the Ilyushin Il-62. It’s long narrow body and 4 rear-mounted engines give it an iconic and unmistakable silhouette. Although it’s a long-range (10,000 km) airliner with a capacity of 200 passengers, Air Koryo currently does not use it for regular commercial flights. Marshal Kim Jong Un’s personal jet is a custom-fitted Ilyushin Il-62. Check out the video of an Ilyushin Il-62 landing at the Pyongyang Sunan International Airport below.
Bonus Feature: Air Koryo Flight Stewardess Pin
For those of you who’ve always wanted a take a close-up view of the pins but were too shy to approach the in-flight crew, here’s my photo of the pin.