South Korean airlines are buckling down to resume flights to and from China to satisfy the demands of Korean business people and overseas residents, while also zoning in on the transit market.
Korea’s No. 2 carrier Asiana Airlines announced on Sept. 7 that it will reopen weekly flight service between Incheon, Korea, and Chengdu, China from Sept. 10. The airline had suspended the route in the wake of the coronavirus. This will nudge up the number of domestic airline-operated inbound and outbound flight routes to China to 11, still well below the 60 or so routes that were offered pre-coronavirus.
Domestic airlines including Korean Air and Asiana Airlines alongside low-cost carriers have pushed for discussions with China’s aviation authority, the Civil Aviation Authority of China (CAAC), to increase the number of routes and frequency of flights between the two countries.
Korean Air is in talks with the CAAC to provide flights between Incheon and Tianjin once a week instead of the current bi-weekly schedule. Asiana Airlines is also in discussions to resume routes connecting Incheon to other cities in China.
Amid looming uncertainty, Korean airlines are ramping up to grab transit passengers from China. On Aug. 31, the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, and Transport announced that it would permit visa-free passengers from China to transit through Incheon International Airport when heading to a third country such as the US or in Europe.
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