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Korean Air Decreases Flight Frequencies To China

A Korean Air 747-8i in Seoul (Photo: AirlineGeeks | Ben Suskind)

While the airlines across the globe are seeing an upward trajectory, South Korean airlines will scale down its flight operations to China in response to the weakened demand. It came after three months of signing agreement to increase the flight frequencies between two countries.

According to the travel figures from the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport, the number of Chinese passengers was less than expected and only recorded 16.7% to the same period in 2019. Before the pandemic, South Korea was one of Chinese travelers’ favorite travel hotspots as it ticks all the boxes. In the meantime, the number of South Korean traveling to China also recorded an unexpected drop from 15% to 5% over the past three years.

South Korea’s  aviation and travel industries were left behind, as China didn’t approve the group sightseeing tour to South Korea. Since China reopened its border, some countries have rolled out their red carpet for the Chinese group tours, such as Thailand and Malaysia. South Korea carriers couldn’t make a fortune as a result.

Korean Air will suspend Seoul’s Gimpo International Airport to Beijing between Aug. 1 and Oct.28, Seoul’s Incheon Airport to Xiamen from Aug. 9. to Oct. 28. Asiana Airlines will also temporarily suspend the flight operation from Gimpo to Beijing from Jul. 6 and Incheon – Shenzhen on Jul. 8. Asiana already suspended Incheon to Xian since Jun. 20.

However, Korean Air will resume the flight between Incheon and the Chinese cities of Changsha and Weihai on Jul. 19 and Sept. 27 respectively. Earlier, the flag carrier has launched to cargo services to Zhengzhou, China.

The airline is recovering from Covid-19, recording an operating profit of $318.3 million for the first quarter of 2023. The travel demand on international routes was rebounded to more than 80% of the pre-pandemic levels at the end of May. But the travel figures were excluded China and Russia. However, Asiana Airlines recorded a loss for the first quarter of the year due to a weak Korean won.

Looking Forward To The Merger

“Travel demand is expected to fully recover to the pre-pandemic levels in the first half of 2024 if domestic and foreign airlines’ planned addition of new planes to their fleets and personnel recruitment go smoothly as planned.” Cho Won-tae, the CEO of Korean Air said.

The airline is currently making every effort to acquire Asiana Airlines. According to Cho, it can make concessions to overseas regulators to ink the deal. Korean Air got 11 approvals from the competitors’ authorities, looking forward to the green light from the U.S., the E.U and Japan.

In addition, Korean Development Bank, the creditor of the airline, expressed confidence over the acquisition of Asiana Airlines and mentioned the plan b is not existed.

“We expect the merger to be concluded during the third quarter of the year,” the chairman of the bank said.


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