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Budget carrier Jin Air makes inroads into long-haul market

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Published : 2014-06-27 20:51
Updated : 2014-06-27 20:51

South Korea’s budget carrier Jin Air, a subsidiary of Korean Air, said on Friday that it will become the country’s first low-cost carrier to start budget long-haul service as early as the end of this year, armed with wide-body aircraft and newly allocated international air routes.

The carrier will also double the size of its passenger jet fleet, from 11 to 20, by the end of 2015.

Top management of Jin Air unveiled the growth strategy at a press conference in Seoul to mark its sixth anniversary.

The carrier developed the strategy to cope with stiff competition from local and foreign low-cost carriers, Jin Air CEO Ma Won said. 
Jin Air CEO Ma Won (second from right) speaks during a press conference held at the Lotte Hotel in Seoul on Friday. (Yonhap)

To offer long-haul flight services at affordable prices, Jin Air will acquire a B777-200 twin-engine wide-body jet that can fly from here to parts of Europe and North America in December and two more of the same model next year for its new long-haul venture.

“As the first local low-cost carrier to take over wide-body jets, Jin Air will obtain the competitive edge in the market and lay the groundwork for sustainable growth,” the chief of the company said.

“Hawaii is a strong candidate destination for our first long-distance flight’’

The airline’s ambitious plan came at a time when the country’s LCC market is saturated by local and foreign rivals such as Air Busan, Eastar Jet and T’way as well as foreign carriers that woo customers with extremely low airfares.

Ma said the short- to medium-haul LCC market, in which Jin Air is competing with domestic and foreign rivals with its 11 B737-800s, is fiercely competitive.

The firm plans to have a fleet of 20 aircrafts by the second half of next year by adding nine aircrafts, including a B77-200ER and B737-800.

In the second half of 2014, Jin Air will increase its flight routes to 17 from 13 at present with new routes to China, Japan and Malaysia.

He added that the B777-200ER jets will be used initially for flights to Guam and Hong Kong, with services to destinations like Hawaii to be offered after the second batch of wide-body planes arrive in July.

By Park Han-na (hnpark@heraldcorp.com)

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