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Korean Air to Recommence Three Long-Haul Routes in July
Korean Air announced Thursday that it will recommence three long-haul operation destinations from July. The South Korean carrier had suspended long-haul flights at the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic over two years ago. As a country, South Korea had very strict lockdown procedures, inbound travel and quarantine restrictions. The mandatory quarantine for fully vaccinated travelers was lifted in March and a seven-day self-isolation requirement was lifted on Wednesday.
The news is a positive step for the airline as it resumes long-haul operations to three destinations from Incheon airport. Korean Air will operate a thrice-weekly service to Vienna, Austria beginning on 01 July. A few hours later the airline heads for Milan’s Malpensa airport in Italy with services that depart on the same days as the Vienna flights.
On July 10, flights resume to Las Vegas with a similar three flights per week service departing on Wednesdays, Fridays and Sundays, the same days as Milan and Vienna. The Las Vegas and Vienna services will be operated by Airbus A330-200 aircraft and the Milan Malpensa flight departing on July 1 is currently scheduled as a Boeing 787-9.
According to Yonhap News, Korean Air will add more destinations as passenger demand increases. In the recently published Q1 2022 report, the airline stated: “The recovery of passenger demand will vary by route and region, and the airline will closely monitor and flexibly respond to the market and changing quarantine policies of its network.”
The carrier posted a record quarterly operating profit of 788.4 billion Korean Won ($651.1 million) for Q1 2022. This figure was a 533% increase year on year with a strong cargo operation contributing significantly to the result. However, the airline did indicate that factors such as the war in Ukraine and the continued lockdown of major cities in China will have an uncertain effect on future earnings. Other external factors cited that may further impact operations included global supply chain bottlenecks, reduction in capacity on European routes and the continued rise in fuel prices.
To better prepare Korean Air for the recommencement of passenger services across a network that served over 130 domestic and international destinations pre-pandemic, the airline significantly reduced its debt ratio. The report stated: “At the end of 2019, the airline’s debt ratio was 814 percent, but as of the first quarter of 2022, the number decreased by 559 percentage points to 255 percent, the lowest debt ratio since 2011, when International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS) were introduced.” Yonhap News Agency notes that the carrier is currently serving 7 domestic and 41 international routes.
The airline also announced that it had secured over 4 trillion Korean Won ($3.18 billion) in cash and cashable assets to “flexibly respond to various market uncertainties.”
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