Fewer fliers on domestic routes in May

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Fewer fliers on domestic routes in May

Travelers on domestic flights decreased more than 3 percent in May following the Sewol ferry tragedy, the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport said yesterday.

According to its data, two million people flew domestically last month, which is down 3.3 percent, or 70,000 people, from a year ago. The ministry said that many would-be travelers had canceled their tickets because of the atmosphere of mourning that followed the Sewol ferry tragedy in April.

“Besides Daegu International Airport and Yangyang International Airport, which saw flights increase, all other airports saw the number of departing passengers drop in May compared to a year ago,” the ministry said in a release.

Jeju International Airport, a main gateway to Korea’s popular vacation destination Jeju Island, saw a 5 percent drop in passengers, with only 819,462 people passing through the airport on domestic flights. Gimpo International Airport in Seoul suffered a 1.2 percent drop.

Korean Air Lines, Korea’s top flag carrier, saw its passengers on domestic flights in May plunge 13.6 percent to 597,803, while its seat occupancy rate was 65 percent, a drop of 8.2 percentage points from a year ago. The number of domestic passengers on Asiana Airlines was almost the same as last year, but its seat occupancy rate slipped 10.6 percentage points year-on-year to 64.6 percent.

The five low-cost carriers (LCCs) served a total of 1.01 million passengers, up 2.7 percent from a year ago, on domestic flights, but their seat occupancy rate dropped. They had a total seat occupancy rate of 81.1 percent, a 7.2 percentage year-on-year decrease.

In contrast to domestic flight figures, the number of passengers on international flights increased 15.6 percent to 4.48 million, the highest May figure on record, thanks to an influx of Chinese tourists.

Because of increased flights between Korea and China, some airports saw a sharp increase in visitors. Jeju International Airport had a 73.2 percent year-on-year increase with 223,808 fliers using the airport in May, while more than 3.4 million people flew from Korea’s main Incheon International Airport, up 12.7 percent from a year earlier.

Almost all airlines, including LCCs and foreign air carriers, saw their international passengers and seat occupancy rates rise last month compared to a year ago.

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

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