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Korean Air vows to defend its turf against marauding LCCs

June 5, 2019 Headline News No Comments Email Email

Korean Air is casting aside its previous passive stance towards low-cost carriers (LCCs) encroaching on its market and will compete more aggressively against them, the airline’s chairman has pledged.

Speaking at IATA’s annual meeting in Seoul, Korean Air chairman Walter Cho said LCCs were muscling into more routes operated by Korean Air and were also moving onto longer sectors such as long-haul international.

Cho was elected as a member of the board of governors (BoG) at the International Air Transport Association (IATA) annual general meeting on 2 June in Seoul.

Walter Cho, Chairman of Korean Air

A report in Air Transport World noted that new LCCs are setting up in South Korea, while overseas carriers are boosting services into the Korean market.

Proposed new Korean carrier Air Premia plans to operate 787 Dreamliners out of Korean Air’s hub at Seoul Incheon International Airport – to destinations including Los Angeles, in the heart of Korean Air’s prime international market.

The Korean Air chairman tipped keener pricing on routes where Korean competed directly with LCCs. Adding more frequencies was another way to heighten competitiveness, he said. Cho pointed out that LCCs are battling each other and the resultant fare wars cut into their bottom lines.

Korean Air runs its own LCC subsidiary, Jin Air, but its growth struck a regulatory hitch last year over alleged foreign citizenship infractions. Cho said the issue was now resolved. Moreover, Korean’s expanded alliance with US carrier Delta Air Lines was working so well in the key transpacific market, Korean was seeking similar opportunities with other carriers.

Written by Peter Needham

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