Jeju Air retired its fleet of Q400 aircraft on June 16, ending the only commercial turboprop flight service between Jeju and Gimpo, Seoul.
The 78-seater aircraft was a favorite among budget airlines including Jeju Air when it was introduced to Korea some five years ago. Bombardier, the Canadian aircraft manufacturer that designed the Q400, touted the plane’s low fuel consumption and economy of scale optimized for short haul flights, and many local low-cost airlines bought their idea.
After an initial acquisition of four Q400s, Jeju Air has since turned to the Boeing 737-800, the workhorse of Southwest Airlines, Ryan Air and other top global budget airlines. As Jeju Air added more international flights including a Gimpo, Seoul, to Osaka route, the turboprop proved ill suited for longer haul flights. The aircraft was never truly welcomed by Korean passengers who kept complaining about its booming noise, cramped cabin and dubious safety track record.
Jeju Air also hopes to minimize maintenance costs by streamlining its fleet to a single model.
On its final two-hour farewell flight from Gimpo to Gwangju, Busan, then back to Gimpo, Jeju Air invited Korean turboprop fans preselected by online application. The company’s four Q400s were sold to Aires Air and will now fly in Colombia.
ⓒ Jeju Weekly 2009 (http://www.jejuweekly.com)
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