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Airlines to profit from new route

Apr 17,2007
A newly proposed shuttle flight route connecting Seoul and Shanghai is expected to raise earnings for airlines, thanks to the airports’ better accessibility, industry officials said yesterday.
The hope follows a recent agreement by Korean President Roh Moo-hyun and Chinese Prime Minister Wen Jiabao to open a new route between Seoul’s Gimpo Airport and Shanghai Hongqiao Airport, considering the large number of travelers between the cities.
The proposed route, connecting two airports in urban areas, is expected to save a substantial amount of travel time, as currently those wishing to travel between the two cities must spend an extra hour by road traveling to the larger international airports.
Korea’s two leading airlines, Korean Air and Asiana Airlines, run 21 and 27 flights to Shanghai, respectively, and nearly all of their flights are crowded with passengers.
“While there may be some worries that the new route could shrink demand in the larger international airports, Gimpo Airport’s flights to Haneda, Japan, did not seem to have a negative effect,” an official at Asiana Airlines said.
“Sales should be boosted rapidly, as time is considered gold among business travelers,” the official added.
Officials at Korean Air also expressed hopes for increased sales, saying that the route’s “significance is in the fact that a new flight route may open to one of the fastest-growing economies in the world.”
Despite high-ranking officials’ moves toward offering Gimpo Airport another international route, Transportation Ministry officials have taken a rather cautious approach, as it contradicts the government’s intentions to foster the larger Incheon International Airport as a logistics hub in Northeast Asia.
“Our plan to use [Incheon] as the lead international airport remains intact,” a ministry official said, asking to be unnamed, adding that Gimpo’s international flights to Japan and the newly proposed one to China were only sought for travelers’ convenience.
The new route to Shanghai, expected to be launched in a year or two, should be the last international route for Gimpo Airport, the official said, as it could stand in the way of further strengthening Incheon’s global position.


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