After receiving its Air Operator Certificate (AOC) in July, South Korea’s newest startup Air Premia is due to launch flights this week. The airline will initially concentrate on domestic routes before expanding to international routes in 2022.
After months of delays caused by the global pandemic, Air Premia will finally operate its first commercial flight this week. On August 11th, the airline’s Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner, registration HL8387, will fly route YP541 from Seoul’s Gimpo International Airport to the island of Jeju.
The aircraft will depart from Seoul at 6:30 and is expected to land in Jeju at 7:40. The return flight will depart Jeju an hour later at 8:40 before landing back in Seoul at 9:50. The airline will operate the same route twice a day, with an evening route departing Seoul at 18:45 and landing in Jeju at 19:55. The return flight leaves Jeju at 21:15, arriving back in Seoul at 22:25.
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Change of plans
The airline’s planned launch date of September 2020 was pushed back due to the pandemic. Travel restrictions meant the airline only received its AOC in July. Originally, the carrier planned to focus on international travel and has already applied to the Department of Transport in the US for an operating license.
The planned focus on intentional, long-haul operations reflects the airline’s decision to opt for the Dreamliner as its first aircraft. However, ongoing restrictions mean the airline’s 787-9 will operate short-haul routes for the time being. But the airline hasn’t given up on its plans for international travel.
With two more Dreamliners on the way and plans for a further seven, the airline is eyeing up flights to Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam, as well as potential routes to the US. However, it’s likely the airline won’t start its campaign to conquer the US until 2022. The first route to the US is slated to connect Seoul with Los Angeles. Reportedly, the airline also set its sights on Vancouver, Honolulu, Berlin, and Cairns in Australia.
A hybrid carrier
Although its launch route is one of the most popular, with over 11 million people flying from Seoul to the holiday island in 2019, the airline plans to focus on less congested routes in the future. The airline has always said it wants to connect places that have no or few direct operations.
However, its post-pandemic plans will see it enter busy markets. The airline is a hybrid carrier, offering full-service at the cost of a low-cost airline. These models are famously difficult to turn a profit. However, the airline thinks it has identified a gap in the market. The key to success? According to Air Premia, the Boeing Dreamliner. Air Premia is relying on lower fuel-burn to help keep costs down and a single-type fleet to reduce operational costs.
With competition on international routes from Korean Air and Asiana, time will tell if Air Premia really has found its niche.
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