Korea’s LCC T’Way Air Eyes Croatia As Next Destination

T’Way Air, a South Korean low-cost carrier founded in 2010, has been given a license last week to operate flights to Croatia and Tajikistan. The license to Croatia is for four weekly year-round services, replacing the license previously given to Korean Air for its flights to Zagreb. Let’s take a look at what this means.

T'Way Air Boeing
T’Way Air is probably looking to launch flights to Croatia to replace Korean Air. Photo: Getty Images

T’Way Air receives two licenses

The Korea Times reported last week that T’Way Air was issued a license from The Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport of South Korea to operate four weekly flights to Croatia and two weekly flights to Tajikistan. This is the first time ever that a South Korean low-cost carrier has been allowed to fly to Croatia. Previously, this was only possible for Korean Air.

In Tajikistan, a former Soviet republic, there are currently no air links to South Korea at any of its 26 airports. This is a curious absence since Tajikistan and Korea have strong diplomatic relations and trade links that date back 2,000 years via the Silk Route.

T’Way Air replacing Korean Air in Zagreb?

In Croatia, Korean Air previously operated flights from Seoul (ICN) to Zagreb (ZAG). The route was launched in September 2018 as a year-round service. Originally, it operated as a direct route between Croatia and South Korea for six months, and as a triangle route Seoul-Zagreb-Zurich-Seoul for the other six months of the year.

However, in the second year of operations, the route was downgraded to seasonal only, and both Zagreb and Zurich lost winter links to Seoul. The downgrade from year-round to seasonal was a familiar pattern in Zagreb Airport. Airlines launch new routes motivated by the airport’s incentives but then either decrease frequencies or leave the airport altogether.

Korean Air Boeing 777
A Korean Air aircraft was last seen in Zagreb, Croatia, in 2019. It will be a while before another one returns. Photo: Getty Images

As a result of the downgrade, Korean Air last operated a scheduled flight between Seoul and Zagreb in November 2019. The airline planned to resume this service in March 2020, but due to the slump in demand as a result of COVID-19, this never happened.

A month ago, Korean Air delayed the resumption of the Zagreb-Seoul route until September 2020. This month, it canceled the route altogether and has let go of its staff in Zagreb. Korean Air clearly does not intend to return to Croatia with regular passenger services, which is why The Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport of South Korea has now issued a license to T’Way Air to fly there.

T'Way Air Croatia Seoul Korea Dubrovnik Zagreb
T’Way Air could launch flights from Seoul to Dubrovnik, instead of replacing Korean Air’s Zagreb flights. Photo: byeangel via Wikimedia

Where could T’Way Air fly in Croatia?

Croatia considers South Korea as a target market for incoming tourists. However, many of these tourists do not visit the capital but spend time on Croatia’s Adriatic coast.

Thus, it would not be surprising if T’Way Air launched flights to the Croatian coastal city of Dubrovnik instead of to the mainland capital of Zagreb. After all, with Qatar Airways postponing the launch of its new route from Doha to Dubrovnik, South Koreans who planned to visit Croatia this year will want to have a new way of getting there.

Do you think T’Way Air will indeed launch flights to Croatia and Tajikistan after being granted this license? Let us know in the comments below what you think of the potential for these new routes.