Asiana returning to Saipan in July
Asiana Airlines is resuming flights to Saipan next month with a once-a-week service to the island.
It suspended the route in March 2020 due to the pandemic.
The flights, which start July 24, will leave Incheon at 9 a.m. and return the same day, departing at 4 p.m. from Saipan and arriving at Incheon at 7:40 p.m.
Asiana will utilize an A321, which has 174 seats.
The Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, in which Saipan is situated, is 59 percent fully vaccinated and has some of the lowest infection rates in the world, with only 183 cases and 2 deaths reported so far.
Travelers with World Health Organization-approved vaccines, a list that includes all those being given in Korea, will be exempt from the 14-day quarantine period required by the government of the U.S. commonwealth, though the airline is currently clarifying the rules, which have changed frequently.
Whether quarantine will be required upon return to Korea has not yet been determined.
Tests before departure and on Saipan may be required.
Asiana Airlines said it plans to increase the number of available routes in response to talks with a number of countries, including Singapore, Taiwan and Thailand, to allow quarantine-free package tours for vaccinated people.
The airline “hopes to activate the international travel and the airline market with the resumption of the Saipan route as the first step,” said a spokesperson for the carrier.
Other airlines have also started resuming international services, as vaccinations raise hopes for a return to normal for travel and tourism.
Korean Air Lines started selling tickets for Incheon-Guam flights that will start in November, while Air Seoul plans to operate the same route twice a week starting in August.
The speed of vaccination is faster than expected,” wrote Choi Go-woon, an analyst at Korea Investment & Securities. As the number of vaccinations increases, “demand to go back to the previous lifestyle is moving fast, and it will result in spending on overseas trips.”
BY JIN MIN-JI [email@example.com]