중앙데일리

Budget airlines win passengers again

Oct 21,2009
Budget airlines, which have been losing passengers to bullet trains since their introduction here in 2004, are starting to win customers back, according to recent data by the Korea Airports Corporation.

For budget airlines, the number of passengers for Seoul-Busan routes increased 5.6 percent on-year in August, while the number of KTX passengers for Seoul-Busan routes decreased 1.3 percent in the same period, the KAC reported.

The total number of airline passengers decreased from 3.8 million in 2004 to 2.4 million in 2008, it said.

Kim Soo-cheon, president and CEO of Air Busan, says the number of airline passengers could increase further. Air Busan is the low-cost carrier for Asiana Airlines, the nation’s second-largest airline.

“Since August, the number of people flying from Busan to Seoul has increased, while the number of people taking the KTX has decreased,” Kim said, during a press conference at a hotel in Seoul commemorating the carrier’s first anniversary, which is next Tuesday.

The new subway line, No. 9, which provides a direct connection to Gimpo Airport, the domestic terminal, has encouraged people to fly, he said. He also said that services for domestic airline passengers such as membership programs for business travelers had helped bring passengers back to domestic air travel.

In addition, the price of domestic airline tickets is comparable to that of bullet train tickets, he said.

When KTX’s new service begins later this year, a one-way train ticket from Seoul to Busan (53,800 won) is expected to cost more than a one-way airline ticket (52,400 won or 44,540 won if the reservation is made on the Internet) for the same destinations. The new express train service will have more routes and faster service.

Meanwhile, Air Busan announced it will offer flights from Busan to Fukuoka starting March 29 and from Busan to Osaka starting April 26.

“Fukuoka has an active relationship with Busan in terms of economy and culture so it is necessary to offer more flights to the area,” Kim said.


By Lee Eun-joo [angie@joongang.co.kr]



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