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Korean Air Increases Flight Operations to China

A Korean Air A380 At Los Angeles International Airport. (Photo: AirlineGeeks | James Dinsdale)

Korean Air has announced that it will enhance its flight operations to China from March 17. It comes after South Korea and China signed an agreement to increase the number of flights to pre-pandemic levels. The total flights between the two countries will reach 84 , up from 13 per week by the end of March. The airline will go further in increasing the weekly flights to 99 in May.

Since China reopened its border in January, South Korean government demanded the visitors from China to take a PCR test upon arrival. In addition, the government limited the number of flights coming from China and the flights must touched down at Seoul’s Incheon International Airport. China strongly opposed to the policies and stopped issuing short term visa to South Korean in return.

After two months of implementing its travel restrictions, South Korea has scrapped the policies on March 1. The decision has cleared the way for new flight schedule between two countries. However, Chinese government hasn’t approved the sightseeing tours to South Korea at the moment.

The South Korean flag carrier said it will enhance the services to Beijing and Shanghai from Seoul.  The route of Seoul’s Gimpo International Airport to Beijing and Shanghai Hongqiao International Airport will be resumed in March. Also, Seoul’s Incheon Airport to Beijing, Xian, Shenzhen, Yanji and Xiaman will be relaunched.

In the meantime, the airline will enhance its frequencies from Seoul Incheon International Airport to Shanghai Pudong International Airport and other cities across China such as Guangzhou, Qingdao, Shenyang, Dalian, Tianjin and Nanjing.

Since the government lifted the restrictions, other Korean carriers are looking forward to resuming their direct services from other Korean cities to China, such as Jeju, South Korea — a popular tourist destination.

Meanwhile, Korean Air could face a delay on merging with Asiana Airlines. European Union won’t make a decision until Aug. 3. , almost a month late.  After two years of the acquisition announcement, other competitors’ authorities include Australia, Singapore have given a green light to the merger.

Korean Air and Asiana Airlines monopolized the flight operations of Seoul to Barcelona and 75% market share in Rome before 2019. Korean Air is expected to provide remedies to ease its monopoly, including returning some slots.

According to the airline, it will continue to cooperate closely with all authorities to receive approvals at the earliest opportunity. The carrier still need the approval from EU, Japan and the United States to finish the acquisition.

Virgin Atlantic Adds London – Seoul

Earlier, U.K.’s Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) has approved the acquisition. Following the decision, Virgin Atlantic has announced it will launch London – Seoul as a result.

“We welcome the CMA’s decision regarding Virgin Atlantic’s role as the remedy taker in the Korean Air and Asiana merger, which will facilitate our entry into Seoul,” the spokesperson of Virgin Atlantic said.

However, the flight planning is up in the air.

Pete Ainsley

Author

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