Trump-Kim summit in Singapore: How will they get here and where will they land?

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un (centre) arriving in the Chinese city of Dalian, on May 7, 2018.
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un (centre) arriving in the Chinese city of Dalian, on May 7, 2018.PHOTO: AFP
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un may fly here on his Soviet-made long-range aircraft, the Ilyushin-62 (Il-62).
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un may fly here on his Soviet-made long-range aircraft, the Ilyushin-62 (Il-62).PHOTO: AFP

SINGAPORE - North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, who is likely to be accompanied by his sister Kim Yo Jong and other key officials when he meets United States President Donald Trump in Singapore next month, may fly here on his Soviet-made long-range aircraft, the Ilyushin-62 (Il-62).

The same aircraft which he flew to Dalian, China, earlier this week, can easily cover the 5,000km distance between Pyongyang and Singapore, experts said.

 

While it is possible that both he and Mr Trump, who will arrive on the US President's plane Air Force One, could land at Changi Airport, Paya Lebar Air Base makes more sense, security experts said.

A day after it was confirmed that the historic summit will take place in Singapore on June 12, attention has turned to where the talks will be held, how the two leaders will arrive and where they will land.

Much is known about Air Force One but very little about the North Korean leader's official aircraft.

Mr Kim's visit to China was his first reported international flight since he assumed power in 2011.

The IL-62 is also operated by North Korea's national carrier Air Koryo.

 
 
 
 

Aviation enthusiast Sim Kok Chwee, said: "I flew the same aircraft from Beijing to Pyongyang in 2004 and was quite impressed with the airline's service level although there was no in-flight entertainment. Air Koryo, which presumably maintains the country's state aircraft as well, would also be required to meet all global safety and other standards."

There is some speculation that the North Korean leader could borrow a plane from China for the meeting in Singapore but Ms Sarah Teo, associate research fellow at the Nanyang Technological University's S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies, said it is unlikely.

"Flying in on his own aircraft would fit the narrative of North Korea's independence and strength coming into the meeting," said Ms Teo, who has been following developments in the Korean Peninsula for about a decade.

Where the two leaders will land in Singapore is a more critical decision, experts said.

Mr Michael Daniel, a retired US aviation official who now runs his own consultancy, said: "This requires careful consideration and coordination between the countries involved - Singapore, US and North Korea - as well as the various security and other government agencies within each country."

Dr Bilveer Singh, senior adjunct fellow at the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies, said: "As a major commercial airport, flights at Changi Airport could be disrupted if, for any reason, the air space needs to be closed temporarily to accommodate the high-level flights.

"It is also important to note that we are dealing with two leaders and states that are paranoid about security. The reason the summit is being held here in the first place is partly because they are confident that Singapore can and will offer 101 per cent security. If this is the key consideration, landing at Paya Lebar is the best option."