International travel is looking a bit more normal
International travel is recovering as restrictions are lifted and airlines restore routes.
The number of passengers taking international flights was 1.28 million in June, 420 percent higher than the same month last year, according to the transport ministry's Aviation Statistics service Sunday.
It was the first month since the pandemic broke out in 2020 that international passengers surpassed 1 million.
International passengers have been rising steadily this year from 411,000 in March, which jumped 59 percent on month to 650,000 in April, and May's 941,000, which was 45 percent higher than the previous month.
The number of all passengers, including domestic and international, was 4.6 million in June, 40 percent higher than a year earlier. Domestic passengers increased by 9 percent compared to June 2021, coming in at 3.32 million.
Passengers numbers are expected to keep rising with loosening of travel restrictions and more places to go.
Last month, the government restored short-term visas for tourists that were suspended in April 2020 as the Covid-19 pandemic swept the globe. The transport ministry also scrapped restrictions on the number of incoming flights and a ban on flights arriving between 8 p.m. and 5 a.m. for the first time in two years and two months.
Flights between Seoul's Gimpo and Tokyo's Haneda airports resumed on June 29. Eight flights will fly a week and the number will gradually increase, according to the transport ministry.
Following the resumption of the Gimpo-Haneda route, Korean Air Lines plans to operate a Gimpo-Osaka service. European flights, including on the Paris and Frankfurt routes, will be increased.
Three out of 10 passenger planes that were used as cargo planes by removing seats will be returned to passenger service.
"We plan to restore the number of seats available on international flights to 50 percent of what it was before the Covid-19 crisis by September," said a spokesperson from Korean Air Lines.
In April, the government said it would try to get international flights to 50 percent of pre-pandemic standards by the end of the year.
BY YOON SO-YEON [firstname.lastname@example.org]