Budget carrier passengers rise over 32% in 2011
The number of people using Korea's low-cost carriers rose to over 10 million for the first time in 2011 as demand grew for both their domestic and international flight services, the government said Friday.
In 2011, 10.52 million people traveled on budget airlines, up 32.5 percent from a year earlier, according to the Ministry of Land, Transport and Maritime Affairs.
The combined market share of the country's five low-cost carriers also rose to 16.5 percent in 2011 from 13.2 percent the previous year as the total number of passengers on all South Korean flights, including those by market leaders Korean Air and Asiana Airlines, only increased 4.8 percent on-year to some 49.12 million.
The five low-cost carriers are Jeju Air Co, Air Busan Co., Jin Air Co., Eastar and T'way.
The ministry attributed the increase of passengers to an expansion of international services by the low-cost carriers.
The number of international routes flown by the country's five discount carriers has increased from eight to 25, according to the ministry. The number of passengers on their international flights nearly doubled to 1.83 million last year from about 930,000 in 2010. Domestic passengers gained 23.9 percent to 8.69 million over the cited period.
The ministry said the market share of low-cost carriers will continue to expand this year despite an anticipated drop in the overall number of air passengers.
"Their domestic market share will likely remain little changed in 2012 amid shrinking demand for air transport services due to an expansion of services by the express KTX trains," it said in a press release.
"They are, however, expected to continue their strong growth in the international services market despite growing competition from foreign budget carriers." (Yonhap)