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A Korean Air 737 MAX among stored planes at Moses Lake. Two new Korean airlines are launching in the coming months. (Photo: AirlineGeeks | Katie Bailey)

Two New Korean Airlines Set to Launch Soon

The aviation industry in South Korea is seeing the light at the end of the tunnel, as Air Premia and Aero K, two brand-new budget carriers, are going to launch services as soon as next month.

Both airlines were granted their Air Carrier Licenses – which allow for interstate, foreign, overseas, or mail transport – in 2019. Air Premia promised its aircraft feature premium economy class and provide international service to North America and Vietnam. The pandemic has deferred its launch until March.

Air Premia is expected to receive its Air Operator’s Certificate (AOC), which allows for domestic operations, from the government and acquire a Boeing 787-9 next month.

“We are planning to launch our inaugural service to a Southeast Asian country, and then expand our routes to Los Angeles and Silicon Valley, among other” Air Premia spokesperson said, per The Korea Times.

Earlier, Aero K was granted an AOC and prepared to launch daily domestic services from Cheongju to Jeju with Airbus A320 in March. According to local media, the carrier will acquire two aircraft from Airbus to operate international routes in the future.

In response to the weak demand in the international travel market, Korean carriers have kept trying to promote domestic travel during the pandemic. But the industry believed that new carriers could not benefit due to their low prices. Airlines also rolled out the scenic flights to stay afloat with the help from the government, and passengers are being allowed duty-free shopping. However, the airlines have faced a setback as the country experienced a surge of cases. Earlier, Asiana had to reschedule its own scenic flights to avoid the spread of the coronavirus.

South Korea’s aviation industry is expected to emerge from the pandemic reshaped. Korean Air, Asiana Airlines and their budget carriers, Jin Air, Air Busan and Air Seoul, are expected to be merged once antitrust regulators approve the acquisition. The five airlines combined account for over 60% of South Korea’s market share.

In the early phase of the pandemic, South Korea was one of the hotspots, but its Incheon International Airport has since become the busiest airport in Asia with a capacity of 11.96 million travellers in 2o2o.

However, the capital’s airport has lost $403.13 million as a result of the Covid-19 to date. Kyung-Wook Kim, the new president of Incheon International Airport, said the airport is “in a crisis” and believed the “new competition among international airports will begin once the world recovers from the pandemic.”  Kim also mentioned that he will resolve the relationship between the airport and its labor force.

Incheon’s airport made a profit of $773 million in 2019.

South Korea’s government revealed that the total capacity of 15 airports across the country was 65 million in last year, a decrease of 59% compared to 2019, the first capacity decrease since 2008.


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