The Korea Herald


Korean Air boosts flights to China, Japan

By Hwang Joo-young

Published : June 20, 2024 - 15:17

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Korean Air's Airbus A321neo aircraft (Korean Air) Korean Air's Airbus A321neo aircraft (Korean Air)

South Korean national flag carrier Korean Air will reopen some routes to China that had been suspended since the COVID-19 pandemic, in response to a recent rise in travel demand between the two countries.

Starting in July, Korean Air will resume flights between Busan and Shanghai, as well as between Jeju Island and Beijing, with each route operating seven times a week, according to the air carrier on Thursday.

Later this year, flights will also resume between Incheon and Hefei, Busan and Beijing as well as Incheon and Kunming. Additionally, it will add more flights from Incheon to Yanji and Dalian, which are currently in operation.

The announcement to boost flight numbers between South Korea and China, particularly to popular tourist destinations, follows the company's recent decision to enhance flight operations between major cities in both countries, largely driven by a surge in passenger numbers.

According to the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport, the total number of visitors traveling between South Korea and China more than doubled on-year to 1,134,940 in May, compared to 473,878 in May last year. In the first quarter of this year, the number of passengers on flights between the two countries reached 2,869,564, a 7.4-fold increase from the same period last year, although the figure remains lower than before the pandemic.

Meanwhile, industry experts anticipate that flights to China will further recover on the back of growing demand for international travel, especially during the upcoming holiday season.

Lee Jae-hyuk, an analyst at eBest Investment & Securities, commented, "Considering the latent demand for overseas group tours from Chinese tourists in recent years, a strong rebound in the China routes is expected."

"Travel demand between South Korea and China is gradually recovering. With the expectation of increased demand during the summer holiday season, we plan to add more flights on these China routes," said an aviation industry official who wished to remain unnamed.

In addition, Korean Air will also increase the number of flights between South Korea and Japan, specifically from Jeju to Narita and from Incheon to Okayama, as more Koreans are drawn to Japan by the weak yen.

"As a leading global airline, we are committed to providing a differentiated schedule for our customers' convenience," said a Korean Air official. "We aim to enhance the satisfaction of our customers traveling abroad."