July 10, 2020 13:07
Korean carriers have resumed international flights in a desperate bid to stay afloat, but the operation rate is still only about 10 percent of pre-coronavirus levels and the number of passengers a mere two percent.
Air Busan will resume flights on the Incheon-Shenzhen route from July 17, more than four months after it suspended all international flights.
Asiana Airlines will resume flights between Incheon and Nanjing from Sunday and T'way Air to Ho Chi Minh City and Hong Kong from July 22.
Korean Air's international flight routes have slightly recovered from 13 in May to 28 this month, but that is still a long way short of the 110 it operated before the epidemic.
According to the Korea Civil Aviation Association, a total of 1,113 international flights were flown by Korean carriers between July 1 and 8, a mere 14.5 percent of the 7,659 in the first week of January.
The bigger problem is the number of passengers. Some 1.37 million passengers used international flights by domestic carriers in the first week of January. But in the first week of July there were only 35,454 passengers, an average of 31.2 passengers per flight and a mere 2.6 percent of pre-coronavirus levels.
"We had about 50,000 passengers per day before the lockdown," a Korean Air executive said. "But there have been only about 2,400 per day this month."
"The demand for international flights will not recover for a long time, and while demand for domestic flights has now reached 80 percent of what it used to be, it could dwindle again if the epidemic drags on," an executive from another carrier said.
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