More travelers are choosing to fly budget carriers between Gimpo, Seoul, and Jeju Island, the most popular domestic route for local travelers and recently ranked the world’s busiest city pair in a survey by OAG Travel Service. The budget carriers, Jeju Air, Eastar and Jin Air carried almost half of all passengers between the two airports during January and February.
Figures released by the Korea Airports Corporation show that the three budget carriers shared 46.9 percent of the market for the first two months of the year. That share has continued to increase since 2008, when budget airlines accounted for only 16.8 percent of passengers between Gimpo and Seoul airports. By the last quarter of 2009, that figure had risen to 39.5 percent and if the trend continues, will soon have the low-cost airlines outperforming full-service carriers, Korean Air and Asiana Airlines, on the route.
The rise is in part attributable to the cost issue and also the fact that safety and service concerns the public once had with budget airlines have dissipated. Budget carriers are making inroads on other routes within Korea also, holding 30 percent of the domestic market at the end of last year. Low-cost airlines hope to grab a bigger share of the international pie as well. Jin Air, which currently flies from Incheon to Bangkok, will add flights to Guam from April. Jeju Air, the first budget carrier to offer international flights in March 2009, will begin a fifth route, from Gimpo to Nagoya, Japan, on March 29
ⓒ Jeju Weekly 2009 (http://www.jejuweekly.com)
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