November 08, 2016 10:38
Budget carriers are feverishly launching new international routes as the domestic market has reached a saturation point.
Jeju Air on Monday said it will launch four new international routes next month. They will include flights between Incheon and Sanya, China from Dec. 5, and flights from Busan to Tokyo, Saipan and Phuket from Nov. 15. The airline will also increase the number of flights between Busan and Fukuoka from seven to 10 per week.
Korean Air's no-frills carrier Jin Air will launch three international routes next month. It is set to operate flights from Busan to Kitakyushu, Japan on Dec. 1 and flights from Incheon to Kitakyushu on Dec. 13. It also offers flights to Cairns, Australia during the period between mid-December to early February to attract more winter holidaymakers.
Asiana Airline's new budget spinoff, Air Seoul, which was launched in July, started operating international flights last month. Most of them were routes operated by Asiana Airlines, but it added more routes.
Eastar Jet, which launched a route between Incheon and Hanoi early this month, will offer flights from Busan to Kota Kinabalu next month.
Budget carriers are mostly targeting niche routes flagship carriers do not offer, and many of them depart from Busan instead of Incheon in a bid to draw travelers in the provinces by decreasing their inconvenience of coming up all the way to Incheon to go overseas.
In tandem with this trend, the number of international passengers using budget carriers is increasing significantly. Budget airliners' combined share of international flights grew from 2.2 percent in 2010 to 14.6 percent in 2015.
"Travelers used to take a long break when they traveled overseas, but these days many of them tend to travel often and take a short trip for a couple of days, leading to an increasing demand for budget carriers due to cheaper prices," a Jeju Air staffer said.
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