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Korean Air sees int'l flight passengers decline in 2014

The number of passengers using international flights of South Korea's largest flag carrier, Korean Air Lines Co., dropped for the second straight year in 2014 in the face of intensifying competition from low-cost carriers, industry data showed Tuesday.

According to the data provided by Incheon International Airport Corp. and Korea Airports Corp., about 16.6 million people used Korean Air's international flights last year, down 0.3 percent from a year earlier.

This marked the second straight year that the figure has dropped since 2012, when 16.99 million passengers used its international flights.

The drop led to a fall in its market share. Korean Air flew 29.2 percent of people using international flights last year, the first time that it dropped below the 30 percent mark.

Korean Air also saw the number of its domestic flight passengers decline 297,000 on-year to 6.66 million last year.

The lackluster performance is attributable to more competition from budget carriers and foreign airline companies luring customers with cheaper ticket prices and improved services.

Low-cost carriers, in particular, chipped away at Korean Air's dominance.

Budget carriers transported 11.5 percent of the total number of international flight passengers last year, up 1.9 percentage points from a year earlier. This marked the first time that their transportation portion has topped 10 percent.

Jeju Air Co., which is owned by Aekyung Industrial Co., flew 2.15 million people in and out of Korea last year, the largest share among budget carriers. Jin Air and Air Busan came next with 1.36 million and 1.26 million, respectively.

Meanwhile, seven national flag carriers transported a combined 35.54 million passengers in and out of Korea last year, up 6.9 percent from a year earlier. The portion of passengers that they transported, however, shrank 2.6 percentage points on-year to 62.6 percent due to intensifying competition from foreign airline companies, the data showed. (Yonhap)

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