Jeju Air asks government to prioritize local carriers

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Jeju Air asks government to prioritize local carriers

Jeju Air, the nation’s largest low-cost carrier (LCC), said yesterday that it submitted a petition to the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport asking the government to further pursue the open-skies accord with neighboring countries and give priority to LCCs when allocating traffic licenses.

The LCC, part of Aekyung Group, said that it filed a petition after the company and four other local LCCs met recently with ministry officials to discuss issues in the industry.

The five Korean LCCs said that because Korea’s international air transportation license is centered on the nation’s flag carriers - Korean Air Lines (KAL) and Asiana Airlines - they are having difficulty operating certain flights, particularly to countries like China, Mongolia and Taiwan.

Jeju Air asked the government to push for an open-skies accord with China, which would open doors for local LCCs. However, negotiations for a full-skies agreement between the two countries haven’t made significant progress, and local LCCs have not been given a full license to operate flights from Seoul. Currently, KAL and Asiana have the rights to fly their aircraft from Seoul to China.

Jeju Air particularly requested the government to allow LCCs to expand international flights departing from Gimpo International Airport, which would lessen operating costs. Because local LCCs are not allowed to operate domestic flights at night, aircraft must stay overnight. To operate international flights, they also must move to Incheon International Airport.

“Incheon Airport should be operating around existing full-service airlines that already have extensive networks serving connecting flights as well. But Gimpo Airport should be operated around LCCs,” Jeju Air said. “We hope our petition to be reviewed thoroughly by the government because we are not looking to enhance our profitability - simply the convenience of our customers and the competitiveness of the country.”

BY JOO KYUNG-DON [kjoo@joongang.co.kr]

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