Some of South Korea’s national carriers are opening up additional international routes from June after they were temporarily suspended due to the coronavirus. Korean Air and Asiana Airlines both have plans to increase their capacity from next month. Other, smaller carriers will delay international operations until at least July.
Asiana Airlines resumes international flights
South Korea’s second-largest airline Asiana Airlines plans to reopen some of its international routes from 1st June. The carrier has been operating at just eight percent of its typical capacity during May. However, it hopes to double that in the coming month to resume 17% of its regular services.
From 1st June, the airline says that it will be opening up 13 international routes. Yet, the routes will not be particularly diverse. The airline has focused its strategy on facilitating business travel and, for that reason, will mainly focus on flights to China.
According to a press release that Asiana Air shared with TTG Asia, the airline said,
“Although the demand for international flights is meager compared to before, we have decided to reopen some routes for those that need to go on business trips and official government duties.”
Earlier this month, China and South Korea reached an agreement to allow the passage of business travelers between the two countries. Passengers on these routes will go through a more relaxed form of screening, which includes quarantining for two weeks in their home country and taking a virus test before flying. Travelers will then undergo a two-day quarantine in China and a subsequent blood test. The aim is to support both countries’ economies while maintaining health and safety precautions.
As such, this decision has allowed carriers like Asiana to resume a few of their services.
Where will Asiana fly?
Of Asiana’s 13 international routes, 12 of them service China. Within the agreement between China and South Korea, 10 focus cities have been opened in China to South Korean business travelers. These include Shanghai, Beijing, Qingdao, Chongqing, and Tianjin – all of which Asiana Air flies to.
Perhaps more surprisingly, Asiana Air also plans to fly to Seattle in the United States. With over 92,000 deaths from coronavirus, the US is the worst affected country in the world. Despite that, Asiana Airlines says it will offer flights three times a week to Seattle from 1st June.
Asiana is resuming San Francisco route from May 1st and Seattle route from June 1st! ✈️ https://t.co/5OuUoUtVC7
— Asiana Airlines (@AsianaAirlines) May 15, 2020
In addition to reopening some of its routes, Asiana Air will also increase frequencies on some of its existing routes. It plans an extra 57 weekly routes through June, including four more weekly connections to both Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City in Vietnam. Asiana Air’s route to Manila, Philippines, will receive one new weekly link to bring frequency per week to four flights.
However, it’s not just Asiana Airlines increasing its international capacity.
Korean Air starts back some of its services
Korean Air’s approach will be slightly larger than Asiana’s. It plans to be operational on 32 routes in June and will operate a total of 146 flights per week. The airline is adding four more North American cities to its June schedule, including Seattle, and is broadening its reach in Europe. The airline will offer three weekly flights to Frankfurt and Amsterdam.
Korean Air will reopen eight cities in Northeastern Asia and five cities in Southeastern Asia; however, it will continue to suspend flights to Oceania. You can find out more about Korean Air’s plans here.
So, what about the other airlines? Well, none have been as vocal as Asiana Airlines and Korean Air. However, Eastar Jet and Air Busan have said that they will not resume international routes until at least July 2020.
Do you think it’s too early for these South Korean airlines to resume international routes? Let us know in the comments.