Airports discount domestic flights to battle KTX

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Airports discount domestic flights to battle KTX

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In an attempt to lure back customers it lost to the bullet train KTX over the past two years, the Korea Airports Corporation will discount domestic air fares starting from next Monday for eight weeks.

The airport corporation stated that airfare will be decreased up to 35 percent during the week and 30 percent on the weekend until March 25 for flights between Seoul’s Gimpo International Airport and four cities: Busan, Ulsan, Pohang and Yeosu.

Some flights will be cheaper than taking the Korea Train Express.

This excludes peak travel days between Feb. 8-12 and March 1-3, coinciding with red day holidays, Lunar New Year on Feb. 10 and Samiljeol (Independence Movement Day) on March 1.

Ever since state-owned Korea Railroad Corporation (Korail) launched the KTX-II, or “KTX-Sancheon,” the first locally made high-speed train that can run up to 300 kilometers per hour (186 miles per hour) and opened the Daegu and Busan lines in 2010, airports have seen a decrease in flights between those cities.

In 2010, a total of 4.29 million people flew between Seoul and the airports in Busan, Ulsan, Pohang and Yeosu, which shrank to 3.47 million last year.

Most notably, in the past two years, people flying between Seoul and Ulsan nearly halved from 944,440 in 2010 to 492,607 last year.

In that same period, usage of the KTX line between Seoul and Ulsan increased by nearly a third from 3.38 million people in 2010 to 4.5 million last year.

The airport corporation said parking fees will also be exempted in the four regional airports in the same period for up to 48 hours, saving an additional 16,000 won ($15.13).

Traveling by KTX from Seoul to Busan, including parking fare for a two-day period, is around 95,000 won round-trip, and takes less than three hours.

But through the airports corporation’s flying perks, travelers can go between the two cities, from Seoul’s Gimpo to Busan’s Gimhae International Airport at up to 25 percent cheaper than the bullet train. A one-way flight takes about an hour.



By Sarah Kim [sarahkim@joongang.co.kr]

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