Passenger numbers for Korean airlines jump 29% to record high in first half

By Candice Kim Posted : July 8, 2024, 14:21 Updated : July 8, 2024, 14:21
Korean Airlines Aju photo
A Korean Air Lines flight. AJU PRESS

SEOUL, July 8 (AJU PRESS) - Korean airlines carried a record 47.56 million passengers in the first half of 2024, marking a 29.1 percent growth year-on-year, driven by low-cost carriers (LCCs), government data showed Monday.

The passenger number surpassed the previous record of 47.04 million set in the first half of 2019, before the COVID-19 pandemic, according to the data released by the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport.

Domestic flights saw 18.15 million passengers, up 11.5 percent year-on-year, while international flights carried 29.41 million, up 43.1 percent. While domestic travel exceeded 2019 levels, international traffic remained 5.3 percent below, primarily due to slower recovery on routes between Korea and China.

The surge is largely attributed to the rapid growth of low-cost carriers (LCCs) focusing on short and medium-haul routes.

Jeju Air reported a 9.1 percent increase compared to 2019, and other budget airlines, including Jin Air, T'way Air, Air Busan and Air Seoul, also saw significant passenger growth.

In contrast, full-service carriers Korean Air Lines and Asiana Airlines experienced declines of 11.2 percent and 16.8 percent, respectively, from 2019 figures.

Industry experts attribute the LCCs' success to their focus on expanding tourist routes and aggressive promotions to capture pent-up demand. High inflation and exchange rates have also driven increased preference for shorter-distance travel.

If the upward trend continues, total passenger numbers for Korean airlines in 2024 could approach 100 million, exceeding the 93.47 million recorded in 2019 before the COVID-19 pandemic.
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