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Jeju Air joins rivals' push for plane conversion for cargo

(Jeju Air Co.)
(Jeju Air Co.)
Jeju Air Co., South Korea's biggest low-cost carrier, said Thursday it will carry cargo using a passenger jet to offset a sharp decline in air travel demand amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Jeju Air plans to deploy a B737-800 passenger jet to deliver cargo from Incheon to Bangkok from late Thursday, the company said in a statement.

"The company is considering expanding cargo delivery using passenger jets to other countries depending on market conditions," the statement said.

Budget carriers began to join full-service carriers to convert passenger jets into cargo planes or increase cargo deliveries to offset a sharp decline in travel demand due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Jin Air Co., a budget carrier unit of Korean Air Lines Co., plans to deploy a B777-200ER jet, which has been recently converted into a cargo plane, on routes from Incheon to Bangkok and Qingdao from Saturday.

T'way Air said it will begin using two of its 27 B737-800 passenger jets to carry cargo on the Incheon-Ho Chi Minh City route in early November.

Korean Air and Asiana Airlines Inc., the country's two full-service carriers, have already converted some of their passenger jets into cargo planes to absorb rising cargo demand.

Jeju Air, which operates 44 B737-800 passenger jets, shifted to a net loss of 202 billion won ($178 million) in the January-June period from a net profit of 12.6 billion won a year earlier. (Yonhap)