Korean Air Braces for Rapid Post Covid Travel Surge

Photo Credit: Karam Sodhi/AviationSource

LONDON – Korean Air has outlined plans to restore its route network after two years of major disruption.

This major announcement was on the 8th of June when the South Korean, Land, Infrastructure and Transport ministry waived strict requirements on flight restrictions and health protocols for flights entering the Republic.

It also came as a surprise for the flag carrier that it will fly at a higher frequency than it had earlier anticipated. The airline will increase its routes to major international destinations and will adjust its route network and capacity accordingly to the demand for air travel.

The airline is also slowly reconfiguring its freighter-converted cabins back into passenger configurations. Apart from preparing its aircraft, the airline will also put in stringent measures in re-training or training members of staff to cope with the surge in demand. 

From July onwards, the airline will restore 50% of the capacity of its international network by September of this year, this is seen as impressive as this is three months earlier than the airline had anticipated. 

Though the airline’s capacity is growing gradually, capacity is still a third of pre-pandemic levels. 

Routes to North America

Routes to North America for Korean Air is one of the most lucrative continents for the airline. The U.S market is one of the most important markets for the airline, as it boasts many destinations for the airline to fly to.

Moreover, the U.S market is flooded with visiting friends and family markets, as there are many Korean diasporas living in the United States.

From the chart shown above, the airline’s most popular destination in the region is Los Angeles and New York.  

Routes to Europe

The European market is much smaller than in pre-covid times.

Paris is being touted as a very lucrative route as Paris is home to Skyteam, which shares the same alliance with Korean Air.

Korean Air can take advantage of this base with its strong strategic alliance with Air France. Paris is also very popular amongst Korean tourists. 

Routes to South East Asia

The south-East Asian market is also one of Korean Air’s popular routes, especially in Bangkok and Singapore. Seoul is a very popular destination among Thai and vice versa.

In fact, Asiana Airlines not long ago deployed their A380 to Bangkok, which in itself is self-explanatory in terms of demand between Korea and Thailand. 

Meanwhile, route pairing from South Korean cities to the Philippines is also very popular, as the island nation is famous amongst South Korean expats. 

East Asian Routes

East Asian routes are Korean Airlines’ bread and butter. One could say the South East Asian market at this moment is much more important than the East Asian market.

Most East Asian markets are being sealed off by one’s government’s strict and oftentimes unreasonable covid-19 entry policies.

Korean Air’s East Asian route will never recover unless China opens up. 

All in all…

Korean Air is looking forward, which is fortunate within the airline and also the industry.

Nevertheless, the airline’s route network will never recover unless the governments of Taiwan, China, Japan, and Hongkong open up.

It looks like the South East Asian and Northern American markets are the kingmakers for the airline.

European markets are trailing behind due to geopolitical restraints surrounding the Russian-Ukraine war.

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