Home Tourism Korean LCCs baffled as Korea-Indonesia aviation talks stall

Korean LCCs baffled as Korea-Indonesia aviation talks stall

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Jeju Air, Jin Air, T’way and Air Busan are South Korea’s main low-cost airlines.

South Korean budget airlines may have to abandon plans to launch services to Indonesia after the two countries failed to reach an agreement on air transport, including awarding new routes to the airlines low-cost national airlines.

They are expected to resume bilateral aviation negotiations later this year. But industry observers see little chance of the two governments signing a deal by the end of this year.

Domestic low-cost carriers have high hopes for new routes to Indonesia to expand beyond short- and medium-distance routes amid the post-pandemic travel boom.

They have aggressively expanded their aircraft fleet to launch full-service carriers over longer distances, including South Korea-Indonesia routes.

Indonesia is not only a popular tourist destination, but also an industrial base for Korean companies, including Hyundai Motor Co. It is also used for transit to and from Australia.

In May this year, Jeju Air Co., the country’s No. 1 low-cost airline, launched one-off flights on two South Korea-Indonesia routes: Manado and the island of Batam in Indonesia. The charter flights marked its first flight service to and from the country.

Earlier this year, Jeju signed a separate agreement with Indonesian authorities to develop new routes with its new aircraft, the B737-8. But no route to this Southeast Asian country has yet been assigned.

Another low-cost airline, Air Busan, was considering whether to apply for transportation rights for Indonesian routes.

Air Premia has a fleet of five mid-size Boeing 787-9s.

T’way Air regularly explores long-distance routes. Last year, it acquired three A330-300s and Boeing’s next-generation B737-8 for medium and long-haul routes.

But they are now being deployed on existing routes such as Bangkok, Singapore and Osaka.

T’way Air also suffered a setback in its plans to launch flights to Croatia after winning the right to serve the Balkan country as South Korea’s first LCC.

But it was never able to send planes to the country because the war between Russia and Ukraine forced it to fly longer distances, making it unaffordable.

Korean LCCs are now looking to diversify their routes with their new aircraft.

Write to Mi-Sun Kang to misunny@hankyung.com

Yeonhee Kim edited this article.

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