Airlines resuming international routes and adding frequencies
International travel is back, and airlines are resuming suspended routes and increasing flight frequencies to popular destinations.
International flight ticket sales on Gmarket and Auction between March 22 and April 21 rose 1,086 percent on year, and tourist package sales rose 1,620 percent.
"There is high travel demand for destinations people couldn't easily go to during the pandemic," said Lee Ju-cheol, head of Gmarket's strategic planning division. "But people tend to be extra cautious about planning their trips, trying to avoid catching Covid-19."
Gmarket and Auction are both eBay Korea companies.
The top three destinations booked via the websites during the same period were Phnom Penh, Los Angeles and Honolulu. During the same period in 2021, the top picks were nearby destinations, such as Osaka, Da Nang and Fukuoka.
Travel necessities are also selling well.
Sales of mid- to large-sized travel suitcases rose 578 percent on Gmarket and Auction during the same period, and the sale of small-sized suitcases rose 255 percent. Luggage tag sales rose 133 percent.
Ticket purchases are also skyrocketing on home shopping channels.
Lotte Tour Development sold 26 billion won worth of 10-day European tour packages during a broadcast on Hyundai Home Shopping on April 3. The package costs 6.29 million won per person, and the company said over 4,000 people called to book the tour.
On Lotte Home Shopping, 2,600 people booked Yellow Balloon Tour's Da Nang tour package on April 16, and 3,100 booked a tourist package to Turkey on April 17.
The company said it plans to schedule more broadcasts selling tour packages to destinations such as Bangkok and Pattaya City.
Travel demand is soaring, but flight numbers are still limited compared to pre-pandemic levels. According to Incheon International Airport Corporation, a total of 420 international flights per week are scheduled to take off from Incheon International Airport in April. That's down 91 percent compared to 4,770 per week before the pandemic in 2019.
Airlines are resuming suspended flights and increasing frequencies.
Asiana Airlines will resume its New Delhi service starting Friday. The flights were temporarily suspended in July 2019. The airline will offer one flight per week.
The carrier is adding one flight per week on the Incheon-Los Angeles route to the current 10. It will take that to 14 per week from May 30.
On May 15, the carrier will add one flight per week on the Incheon-Sydney route, bringing the total to three a week. Another weekly flight will be added in July.
Asiana Airlines will take its five-a-week Incheon-Osaka service to seven a week from May 12, and Incheon-Fukuoka from two to three flights a week from May 11.
It will make Incheon-Hanoi a daily service, up from six a week, on May 1.
The airline will up its Incheon-Ho Chi Minh service from seven a week to 10 a week from May 10, and will do the same for its Incheon-Manila service.
Air Busan will resume a number of suspended routes.
Busan-Fukuoka flights will resume starting May 31, and the airline will fly to and from that destination once a week. Twice-a-week Busan-Da Nang flights will be offered from June 29, and Busan-Cebu twice a week from July 15.
These routes have been suspended for 26 months.
"Our staff is preparing to resume more international flights as the government lifts travel restrictions," said a spokesperson for Air Busan.
BY LEE TAE-HEE [email@example.com]