Korean Air Lines Co. and Asiana Airlines Inc. are rejoicing at an increase in the number of passengers who use new flights to Europe thanks to a Europe tour craze. As self-guided trips are getting popular among the younger generation, the European routes are expected to continue to grow.
According to flight industry sources and a flight information portal site on Nov. 6, the number of passengers who use national flag carriers’ direct flights from Incheon International Airport to Barcelona, Spain, has doubled to 16,000 a month this year. The Incheon-Barcelona route was originally operated four times a week solely by Korean Air. The average number of passengers who used the route stood at 7,000 a month before. As Asiana Airlines launched a direct flight to Barcelona four times a week in September this year, there was concern that it would become a chicken game between the two air carriers for the limited number of passengers.
However, the result was contrary to the concern. When Asiana Airlines has started operating the non-stop Incheon-Barcelona route in September, the number of passengers who used the direct flights from Incheon to Barcelona came to 15,919 a month, up 9,015 from August. The figure totaled 16,684 in October, showing a growth of 10,000 compared to the average. The number of passengers who used the routes to Europe from January to October this year added up to 2.62 million, up 16 percent from a year earlier, while that of the direct flights to Barcelona grew nearly 140 percent.
Korean Air also saw its occupancy rate of the new route between Incheon and Zagreb, Croatia, which was opened this September, surpass 80 percent. The number of passengers who used the Incheon-Zagreb route has been on the rise every month from 4,771 in September to 5,148 in October. An official from Korean Air said, “As Croatia has emerged as a popular tourist destination in Eastern Europe, the number of customers who use the direct flight to the country is growing.”
The Incheon-Venice route which has been operated by Asiana Airlines from May this year is also getting popular. The number of passengers who used the direct flight to Venice for six months from May stood at 37,199, which was 6,200 a month on average.
Regarding the increase in the number of passengers who use the new routes to Europe, industry analysts say that the customers of foreign air carriers moved to national flag carriers.
More and more younger people are going on self-guided trips to Europe. In the past, passengers had to use foreign airliners to travel major cities, such as Barcelona and Croatia, and neighboring countries at the same time. Generally, foreign air carriers based on Europe fly to Barcelona via their own countries where the headquarters are located. South Korean passengers suffered inconvenience in terms of language and Korean content in the aircrafts. Under the given circumstance, those who used foreign airliners moved to Korean Air and Asiana Airlines when the national flag carriers have increased the routes to Europe.