Low-cost carriers aim to fly high in second half

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Low-cost carriers aim to fly high in second half

Korea’s low-cost carriers have announced aggressive business plans for the second half of the year.

Jin Air, the second-largest LCC run by Korean Air Lines, celebrated its fifth anniversary yesterday and introduced new cabin crew uniforms designed by Italian fashion brand Carrera. They will be worn starting in September.

“After five years, we are preparing for a new start with a new style,” said Jin Air CEO Ma Won at a press conference in Coex, southern Seoul, yesterday. “We have the highest efficiency in the industry with a small workforce, but we will be armed with new products and ideas.”

Ma said company performance in the first half was hit hard by the weak yen and threats by North Korea, but has been in the black for four straight years.

Jin Air had sales of 128.1 billion won ($114.2 million) and operating profit of 2.9 billion won in the first half of the year.

“We will bring in new aircraft in November and boost frequency,” Ma said, referring daily flights to Hong Kong and Macao for the winter.

The company also is also considering flying more domestic routes, and Ma mentioned Busan to Jeju, and Gimpo to Busan.

“We will enter the market whenever we think it is profitable,” he said.

Meanwhile, Jeju Air, the largest LCC, estimated that its first half performance will be its best ever.

The affiliate of Aekyung Group said yesterday that revenue should reach 205.7 billion won, up 32 percent from a year ago, and operating profits surge 940 percent year-on-year to 6.2 billion won.

It served 2.21 million passengers from January through June, up 23 percent from a year ago.

The company explained that its investments are paying off. Jeju Air brought five aircraft since last year and added 13 new Chinese routes.

“We expect our business performance to keep up in the second half since third quarter is summer vacation period and we are expanding the frequency of our Incheon-Tokyo flights,” the company said in a release.

Eastar Jet said it had 116.9 billion won in sales and 420 million won in operating profit for the first half, the first time the company has been in the black. For the first half of 2012, Eastar had 83.2 billion won in sales and an operating loss of 14.1 billion won.

“Chartered flights to China and bringing in two more aircraft boosted our sales,” the company said in a release.

BY joo kyung-don [kjoo@joongang.co.kr]
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