By Elizabeth Shim
North Korea wants to attract as many as 1 million visitors annually to its tourist zones – but Pyongyang may have a problem with its national carrier, recently ranked the world’s worst for the fourth year in a row.
The annual list compiled by British aviation consultancy Skytrax, ranks 600 airlines based on several factors, including aircraft efficiency, customer service and in-flight meal quality, The Independent reported.
Air Koryo was not only ranked worst but also had the dishonor of being the sole carrier with a one-star rating out of a possible five stars.
Passenger reviews of Air Koryo pointed out the airline uses outdated methods: Luggage is weighed by hand, and check-in procedures are lengthy and inefficient. On board, lax safety and rudimentary safety belts did not meet passengers’ standards, according to Skytrax ratings.
In-flight service and entertainment were also a source of complaints. One reviewer on Skytrax said Air Koryo flight attendants behaved unprofessionally and appeared to be more interested in applying their makeup than serving passengers. Entertainment in the cabin was limited to propaganda films that praised the lives and achievements of North Korean leaders, according to reports.
Air Koryo’s aging fleet has led to a 2006 ban from the European Union, which was lifted in 2010 when North Korea purchased two TU-204 planes from Russia, South Korean outlet No Cut News reported. Only the more modern planes are allowed to enter European air space.
Air Koryo operates routes from North Korea to Beijing, Shenyang, Vladivostok and Bangkok.