South Korea to Lift International Flight Restrictions

This is when South Korean air travel policies related to international flights will be normalized to pre-COVID-19 status.



May 31, 2022

DALLAS - As early as July of this year, South Korean air travel policies related to international flights will be normalized to pre-COVID-19 status.

According to government officials, the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, and Transport is promoting the normalization of aviation policies, such as lifting the Incheon International Airport (ICN) flight time limit.

Yonhap News reports today that last month, the Ministry announced a plan to resume international flights and said that it would normalize its aviation policy to pre-pandemic status.

The measure would stabilize ticket prices, which have been on the rise recently. As the demand for international flights increased due to the easing of quarantine measures, such as the exemption of the rule for inbound travelers, airfare prices skyrocketed as there was a shortage of seats.

South Korea is planning to increase international flights by lifting the ICN's operational restriction, which is currently between 8:00 pm and 5:00 am. The operating hours of regional airports will also be normalized.

South Korea's air traffic rose 10.8% in 2021 on increased domestic flights but international travel continued to falter amid the CIVD-19 pandemic.

When normalization is achieved, ICN, the largest airport in South Korea, the primary airport serving the Seoul Capital Area and one of the largest and busiest airports in the world, will operate 24 hours a day, and the limit on the number of arrivals per hour will be at the level of those in their 40s before Corona 19.

It is expected that the inbound management system, such as COVID-19 testing, will be changed.

The country is pending the decision on the scheduling of regular international flights approved by the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, and Transport. The schedule will be set on a monthly basis in consultation with health authorities.

Korean Air HL8212 Airbus A330-223 Skyteam Livery. Photo: John Leivaditis/AIrways

South Korean Aviation Industry

According to, the air transport business in South Korea is considered one of the most efficient in the world, and it continues to grow strongly and consistently. Korea's international passenger and freight traffic volumes have gradually expanded during the last 20 years.

Incheon International Airport, South Korea's largest international airport, opened in 2001 and has played a significant role in the Asian and global air transportation industries. ICN expanded its capacity by adding Terminal 2 a few years ago, allowing it to handle even more passengers and cargo, the latter of whose top busiest route is the US.

The Asia-Pacific region, followed by North America and Europe, is the main market for passenger movements to and from the Republic of Korea. According to IATA, 61.9 million passengers arrived from Asia-Pacific (91.1%), 3.1 million passengers arrived from North America (4.6%), and 2.5 million passengers arrived from Europe (3.7%) in the Republic of Korea before the pandemic.

Featured image: Korean Air HL8082 787-9 ICN. Photo: Christian Winter/Airways