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Low-cost carriers prepare for spike in international travel

(Air Seoul)
(Air Seoul)
South Korean low-cost carriers are preparing for a spike in international travel amid growing signs of travel confidence.

Air Seoul, one of two budget airlines owned by Asiana Airlines, announced Tuesday it would resume flights between Incheon and Guam after a suspension of some 660 days.

Flying twice a week starting late December, the airline said it marks the first air travel route to be resumed for tourists since the COVID-19 pandemic.

The last flight to the US island territory by the airline flew on Feb. 29 last year.

“As we go ahead with the ‘With Coronavirus’ strategy, travel confidence is slowly recovering and we are working with travel agencies to be prepared (for a hike in travel bubble) in advance,” one official at Air Seoul said.

“Looking closely at government measures, we are working to resume international flights at the appropriate time, especially to countries that sign travel bubbles with South Korea.”

The move comes as the tourism industry has seen signs of growing travel demand in recent months.

According to data from e-commerce platforms Gmarket and Auction, sales of international flight tickets saw a 69 percent year-on-year increase in September.

The figure was also up 29 percent from the previous month. When broken down by travel dates, tickets for flights scheduled between December and January enjoyed a 160 percent increase in sales on average.

As the aviation industry waits to recover from the pandemic, Jeju Air announced Tuesday that a charter flight between Incheon and the northern Thai city of Chiang Mai for golf tourists would begin flying next month.

The airline also said it plans to resume other major routes between the two countries including flights between Incheon and Bangkok sometime this year.

T’way Air, which has completed the signing of a lease deal involving three midsized aircrafts A330-300, is taking steps to roll them out next year.

Schedules for operation, maintenance and training have been confirmed, according to the airline, with the airline’s instructors having received four days of training at Airbus Training Center Europe in Toulouse, France last month.

Training of cockpit crew members will be complete by April 2022, the airline said.

“We are doing our best to share the joy of traveling that everyone is waiting for on a new plane on a new route,” one official at the airline said.

The midsized jetliners will be introduced for medium- and long-haul flights such as Sydney, Honolulu and Singapore.

By Yim Hyun-su (hyunsu@heraldcorp.com)
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