(Corrects spelling of Eastar in second paragraph)
SHANGHAI, March 10 Airline operators cut some
routes between China and South Korea as the fallout spread on
Friday from a diplomatic row over Seoul's plans to deploy a U.S.
missile defense system regardless of Beijing's objections.
In a statement on its website Korea's Eastar Jet Inc said it
was stopping flights between the South Korean cities of Cheongju
and the tourist hotspot Jeju with various Chinese cities
including Ningbo, Jinjiang and Harbin.
This followed Carnival Corp's Costa Cruises and
Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd cancelling South Korean port
visits by their China-based cruises. Royal Caribbean cited
"recent developments regarding the situation in South Korea".
A South Korean government document seen by Reuters said
China recently gave a "7-point" verbal instruction to travel
firms to curtail or ban trips to South Korea.
The crackdown has sent a chill across South Korea's retail
and tourism sectors, which rely heavily on China trade, and
prompted South Korea to say it will consider filing a complaint
against China to the World Trade Organization over what it
described as trade retaliation over the THAAD deployment issue.
According to searches of their websites on Friday, China
Eastern Airlines Corp Ltd and Spring Airline Co Ltd
have stopped selling tickets for mid-next week
onwards for flights between the eastern Chinese city of Ningbo
and popular South Korean tourist island Jeju.
The two airlines did not respond to requests for comment.
Princess Cruises, also owned by Carnival, said in a
statement to Reuters on Friday it would changes its routes to
remove visits to South Korea, which it said would give
passengers more time on the boat and at Japanese sites.
"Due to the current situation, Princess Cruises' China team
has been in close dialogue and prudent discussions with relevant
departments," the firm said. "All routes which involve South
Korea have been altered."
South Korea relies heavily on Chinese tourists, who make up
nearly half of all foreign visitors, official Korean data show.
(Reporting by Adam Jourdan and Muyu Xu in BEIJING)