South Korea Launches Secondary Airport Scenic Flights

South Korea’s Ministry of Land, Transport and Maritime Affairs (MOLIT) has extended its permissions for ‘non-landing international flights’ to three secondary airports in the country, starting in May. The so-called ‘flights to nowhere’ were previously only allowed from the main airport at Seoul Incheon. Local airlines Jeju Air and Air Busan have already planned new flights in May.

Korean Air A330
South Korea is allowing more scenic flights from secondary airports. Photo: Korean Air

More flights to nowhere from May

More scenic non-landing flights are set to launch in South Korea, as the Ministry of Land, Transport and Maritime Affairs (MOLIT) has expanded its permissions for these types of activities. Minister Sung-won Yoon announced on April 18th that scenic flights would be extended to regional airports such as Gimpo, Daegu and Gimhae, as well as continuing from Seoul.

With most international flights suspended or severely reduced for more than a year now, MOLIT has been supporting aviation and tourism with permissions for ‘flights to nowhere.’ The flights have proven incredibly popular in countries all over the world, although Asian airlines have been the most predominant in laying on such services.

In South Korea, both Asiana and Korean Air have been involved in such flights. Other operators joined in too, with MOLIT stating that a total of 75 flights were operated from Incheon since December, letting more than 8,000 people take to the skies. Aviation policy officer Yoon Jin-hwan of MOLIT said in a statement,

“We hope that non-landing international tourism flights will some help to related industries such as aviation, duty-free, and tourism, which are experiencing unprecedented difficulties. I look forward to the start.”

Jeju Air 737
Budget Jeju Air already has 14 flights planned. Photo: Getty Images

Now, with more airports allowed to operate these sightseeing services, more passengers than ever will be able to enjoy the experience. MOLIT says that, initially, these flights will focus on airports at Gimpo, Daegu and Gimhae, with other regional airports such as Cheongju and Yangyang under consideration to be added later.

The new permissions will take effect from early May, with each of the three airports being allowed to operate up to three daily flights. Passengers will undergo all the relevant health checks before the flight and will be permitted to purchase duty-free goods as part of the experience.

In contrast to some sightseeing flights, airlines will not be serving up meals onboard. Passengers are not allowed to eat or drink during the flight and must maintain their mask-wearing at all times.

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Flights already planned

With the announcement last week that flights can operate from airports outside of Seoul, local airlines have wasted no time in planning new sightseeing services.

Jeju Air, South Korea’s first and largest low-cost carrier, has scheduled no less than 14 international flights to nowhere in the month of May. From Seoul, these will leave on May 1st, 5th, 8th, 15th, 19, 22nd and 29th. Taking advantage of the new permissions, it will operate from Gimpo on May 9th, 16th, 23rd and 30th, as well as Busan on May 1st, 15th and 29th.

Air Busan Airbus 321
Air Busan will fly 17 scenic flights in May. Photo: Getty Images

Air Busan is similarly planning a swathe of non-landing international services in May, with a total of 17 flights already on the roster. It will begin flights at Gimhae Airport on May 1st, with seven flights taking place. Gimpo will begin on May 5th, with six flights in total taking place. It already had four further flights on the schedule to operate from Incheon.

Have you taken a flight to nowhere? Let us know about your experience in the comments.

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