Airlines are rolling their sleeves to meet growing demand that seems to be defying the global recession. Big national flag carriers are keen on launching new routes to Asia, Europe and Africa, while budget airlines are intensifying competition on popular routes.
Korean Air will start to fly to Rangoon on Sept. 13 following its launch of direct flights to Nairobi in June. Tourism and business flights to Burma are expected to increase since recent tentative reforms in the resource-rich country. The national flag carrier also plans a new route to Saudi Arabia by the end of the year.
Korean Air will also boost flights to popular Southeast Asian destinations, including the Thai resort island of Phuket.
Asiana Airlines, meanwhile, will fly to Vladivostok on its 171-seater A321 seven times a week from Incheon, starting in November. It wants to boot its operation in Northeast Asia and the Far East with the new route in addition to existing services to Khabarovsk and Yanji.
Aisana also plans to increase flight services to Asahikawa and Paris to two and four times a week from November, while also offering more flights to favorite destinations in Southeast Asia.
Low-cost carriers are focusing on expanding international routes. Top of the list are the Philippines, with Jeju Air, Jin Air and Air Busan recently granted the right to fly there 10 times a week each.
In addition, Jeju Air will launch a new flight to Guam next month, operating a 190-seater Boeing 737-800 seven times a week from Incheon. Jin Air, which launched flight services to Vientiane, Laos and Yantai, China this year, is considering more flights to other Asian destinations.
Air Busan plans to offer one more daily roundtrip on the Busan-Osaka and Busan-Fukuoka route from November. The carrier will increase flights between Busan and Cebu from four to eight a week from December.
Eastar Jet, which opened new routes between Gimpo and Taipei and Incheon and Osaka this year, is seeking to launch flights to Vladivostok within the year.