Meet Aero K: A South Korean Startup With Swanky New Uniforms

South Korea is set to get another low-cost carrier (LCC) in the next few months with the launch of Aero K. A fun-loving, price-sensitive airline with a twist; Aero K is shaking up the South Korean airline industry in more ways than one.

Korean Air, Eastar Jet, Jin Air
More competition is coming to South Korea with the launch of Aero K. Photo: Getty Images

Aero K comes to South Korea

It could be said that South Korea has somewhat of an affinity with low-cost airlines. With seven established LCCs already in service and another on the way, it may seem strange that Aero K is delving into this seemingly over-populated space.

Aero K is the rebrand of K-AIR Aviation, a low-cost airline that was founded in 2017. While, like many other airlines, it’s committed to wallet-friendly fares, it also plans to leave an indelible mark on the South Korean airline industry. It’s branded itself as a safety-conscious airline that gives customers freedom, a warm service, and extraordinary professional life for employees. A peek at its website marketing certainly makes working for Aero K look like a treat.

The proof is in the pudding, and yet we haven’t seen Aero K in action. It was meant to launch back in 2018, but with insufficient funding, amounting to some $13m, it was denied government approval. Fast forward two years, and all that Aero K is waiting on is its Air Operator Certificate (AOC). Again, due to recent events, this has been delayed. Aero K officials now hope that the airline will receive its AOC this month and, if so, it will be able to launch operations from August 2020.

What will Aero K operations look like?

Although it undoubtedly would have liked to be operational before now, the delay has meant Aero K will start in a stronger position. It had initially planned to launch in March 2020 and would have done so with one A320-200. (According to Planespotters, that aircraft is already in Aero K’s fleet but is currently parked.)

The airline would then have expected delivery of one more A320-200 in July and another in August. Gearing up for its launch, Aero K will now start with three aircraft. After that, finance-dependent, Aero K plans to grow. It placed a firm order for eight A320s back in March 2017.

Posted by Aero K 에어로케이항공 on Wednesday, 3 June 2020

The airline will be based in Cheongju International Airport, and its inaugural route will be to Jeju International Airport. In the future, Aero K plans to focus its operations in northeast Asia and hopes to operate in the following destinations:

  • China;
  • Japan;
  • Taiwan;
  • Vietnam.

By the end of this year, South Korea will have nine LCCs in operation. It seems like a lot; however, low-cost international travel is a growing market in the country. In fact, in 2018 alone, it grew by 24%. So, how will Aero K ensure that it stands out?

Jeju Air in flight
Aero K joins the competition alongside established carriers like Jeju Air – how will it stand out? Photo: byeangel via Flickr

Well, it’s already branded itself as a more carefree airline with rigorous safety concerns and customer service. Yet there’s something else about this airline which is quite unusual: its uniform.

Aero K is championing counterstereotypes. It’s moved away from the beauty pageant-esque commodification of staff and opted for a genderless uniform that puts safety above appearance.

In a recent post on its Facebook page, the airline shared,

“The practical uniform Aero K has created is based on respect so staff can perform jobs better, rather than on age and gender. In the end, all this concern is to perform the most important mission of passenger safety.”

Altogether, there could be exciting times ahead for South Korea’s new outfit.

How do you think Aero K will fare in the competitive LCC market? Let us know your thoughts in the comments.