Korean Air is expanding its route network into China with four new services to second-tier cities, buoyed by increasing demand.
The South Korean flag carrier will introduce flights from Incheon to Hefei and Nanning, from tourist centre Jeju to Guiyang, and from Daegu to Shenyang. First flights will begin in late March, with the last new schedule slated for mid-June, using Boeing 737-800 aircraft.
According to China’s National Tourism Administration (CNTA), some 5.2 million Chinese will have traveled internationally over the 2015 Chinese New Year holiday—with 15.6% visiting South Korea, making it the No. 1 overseas destination for Chinese passengers.
In 2014, more than 6.3 million Chinese visitors traveled to South Korea, reflecting a 46% increase from 2013, according to South Korean government statistics.
“This year, the number of tourists continues to grow, due to an easier visa application process for Chinese passport holders, and the depreciation of foreign currencies against the yuan,” CNTA said.
The new Korean Air services reflect an increasing interest in China’s second cities as a growing potential market. They follow recent announcements from AirAsia X of its sixth China route from Kuala Lumpur International Airport 2 to Chongqing; and from Alitalia, which recently detailed plans to launch flights from Rome and Milan to Beijing and Shanghai in the second half. Both airlines will operate several times a week using Airbus A330 aircraft.
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