Taiwan’s Ministry of Transportation and Communications stated on Monday that air traffic around the island is gradually returning to normal after the island’s airspace was reopened, while China later announced further military drills in the vicinity.

China deployed scores of planes and fired live missiles near Taiwan last week in response to US House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s visit.

Some airlines cancelled flights to Taipei and changed flight patterns between Southeast Asia and Northeast Asia to avoid the affected area due to the drills. 

Notices to airmen (NOTAM) issued by Beijing proclaimed temporary danger zones for planes to avoid during the drills that surrounded much of Taiwan. The final NOTAM covering an area of airspace east of the island expired at 0200 GMT on Monday and was not renewed.

On Monday, China’s military announced new maneuvers in the waters and airspace around Taiwan, but no precise location was revealed, no new NOTAM was issued, and there were no signs of airlines modifying routings on flight tracking service FlightRadar24. 

Taiwan’s transportation ministry had stated that most scheduled flights to and from the island had continued to operate during the Chinese military exercises, which began on August 4, with an average of 150 departures and arrivals each day.

The frequency of flights transiting the airspace managed by its controllers is gradually returning to normal after the final NOTAM was withdrawn, according to the ministry’s website statement.

According to the ministry, some foreign planes that normally utilize the airspace flew alternative routes through areas overseen by Japan and the Philippines during the drills.

Korean Air Lines Co Ltd (003490.KS) said on Monday that it had resumed normal flight operations after canceling flights to Taipei on Friday and Saturday and rerouting others to avoid the impacted area.

Philippine Airlines said it would resume normal flight routes to and from Taipei after using alternate flight paths over the last four days of drills.

Korean Air said it had not changed its flight schedules in response to the latest Chinese notice, and Philippine Airlines did not immediately reply to a request for comment.

Temporary airspace closures and route adjustments occur on a regular basis around the world during large military exercises.

This was an unusual situation in that China’s maneuvers cut through Taiwan’s claimed 12 nautical miles (22 kilometers) of territorial waters, which Taiwanese officials believe violates international law and amounts to a blockade of its sea and airspace.

Source: Reuters

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