Korea and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) wrapped up the Korea-UAE aviation talks without reaching an agreement on expanding flights between Incheon and the UAE.
The Korean Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport announced on Aug. 8 that the Korea-UAE aviation talks were held in Abu Dhabi for two days from Aug. 7. "Yet we failed to reach an agreement on increasing flight services between Incheon and the UAE, which were requested by the UAE," the ministry said.
At the talks, the UAE reportedly asked the Korean government to at least double flights between Incheon and Dubai and Incheon and Abu Dhabi. Currently, the UAE’s Emirates operates flights between Incheon and Dubai seven times a week and Etihad Airways flies from Incheon to Abu Dhabi seven times a week.
The Korean aviation industry has voiced concerns over a possible increase in Incheon-Dubai services due to Middle Eastern airlines’ growing dominance. Korean Air is the only Korean airline to fly between Incheon and Dubai, but its number of seats is only one fifth of Middle Eastern airlines. Middle Eastern airlines’ ticket prices are also 20 to 30 percent cheaper than those of Korean Air.
Last year, 72 percent of Emirates passengers and 63 percent of Etihad Airways passengers transferred to Europe. This suggests that an increase in services by Middle Eastern airlines on the Incheon-UAE routes could cause a drop in Korean airlines’ passengers to Europe.
"At this meeting, Korea and the UAE extensively discussed the vitalization of a hub airport though the expansion of flights requested by the UAE and direct and transfer transportation’s impact on the aviation industry and consumer benefits," said Eo Myung-so, an aviation policy officer at the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport. “Aviation officials of both sides will continue to discuss this through future air talks so that the aviation industries of both countries can achieve win-win growth.