South Korea’s Jeju Air to resume flights to Laos


Wattay International Airport is ready to accommodate international flights to Laos operated by foreign airlines. - Phoonsab Thevongsa

VIENTIANE (Vientiane Times/Asia News Network): Jeju Air Co, the Republic of Korea’s biggest low-cost carrier, will resume flights to Laos and Vietnam in April after three years of suspension due to the Covid-19 pandemic, according to the South Korean news agency Yonhap.

The budget carrier plans to commence services on routes from Incheon to Vientiane, and to Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City in Vietnam on April 20, after Laos opened its borders to international visitors last year.

Jeju Air operated eight routes to five Vietnamese cities -- Danang, Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh, Nha Trang and Phu Quoc -- at the end of 2019, but most of the routes were suspended in early 2020 when the pandemic hit the airline industry.

In June last year, the company resumed the routes from Incheon to Danang and Nha Trang, and the Busan-Danang sector.

Jeju Air aims to turn around this year after posting net losses for three consecutive years through 2021 as eased virus restrictions unleash pent-up travel demand.

Director of Lao Airlines’ Commercial Department, Noudeng Chanthaphasouk, told the Vientiane Times on Tuesday (Feb 14) that it was a perfect time for foreign airlines to operate flights to Laos.

The number of people visiting Laos is increasing significantly since the lifting of travel restrictions, and the country has been ranked by several media organisations as one of the world’s top travel destinations for 2023.

“The airline industry in Laos is positive at the moment with the rising number of passengers,” Noudeng said.

Seats on Lao Airlines’ flights are currently 70-80 percent full due to the growing number of foreign nationals coming to Laos, Noudeng said.

Lao Airlines has also opened flights to South Korea in response to the growth of regional tourism.

Flights between Laos and South Korea are an important link for tourists from Europe, US and other continents, as they can fly to Asean countries including Laos after transiting in South Korea.

Laos is now well connected regionally after several airlines based in neighbouring countries, notably Thailand, China and Vietnam, have resumed flights to Vientiane and other cities.

Noudeng said Lao Airlines plans to operate flights from Vientiane to Guangzhou, Shanghai, Chengdu, Changzhou and Hangzhou to increase links between Laos and China and spur the growth of tourism.

Lao Airlines hopes to benefit from the influx of Chinese tourists to Asean now that China has lifted travel restrictions.

The airline also plans to increase the number of flights from Luang Prabang and Champassak to China.

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Laos , South Korea , Jeju , airlines

   

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