Airlines Compete for Gimpo-Haneda-Hongqiao Route
By Kim Rahn
Korea's two national flag carriers are vying to take the initiative of flight operations connecting three Northeast Asian cities _ Seoul in Korea, Shanghai in China and Tokyo in Japan.
The triangular ``shuttle flight'' operation among Gimpo airport, Hongqiao airport and Haneda airport will begin on Oct. 28.
The three airports, which mainly deal with domestic flights, are closer to the metropolitan cities than their respective international airports _ Incheon International Airport, Shanghai Pudong International Airport and Narita International Airport.
So, the operation to the airports is expected to reduce travel time and cost, leading to more passenger demand.
Korea and Japan have operated regular flights between Gimpo and Haneda since 2003, and Japan and China opened the Haneda-Hongqiao the route last month.
With the Gimpo-Hongqiao route ready to open on Oct. 28, Korean carriers are strengthening their alliances with Japanese and Chinese airlines.
Korean Air said last week that it would launch a code-sharing operation for the Gimpo-Haneda route, through which it sells seats on Japan Airlines' flights under its own name, starting Oct. 28. A total of four roundtrip flights _ two by Korean Air and two by Japan Airlines _ will be available.
Asiana Airlines said it would also begin a code-sharing with All Nippon Airways (ANA) for the Gimpo-Haneda route, starting the same day, with four roundtrip operations. Cabin crew of the two airlines will board the other's flights to provide better services to their nationals.
Along with the opening of the Gimpo-Hongqiao route, the two carriers are expected to compete with each other once again.
The two airlines and China's two carriers will operate a roundtrip flight each on the route per day.
Korean Air is likely to cooperate with China Southern Airlines and China Eastern Airlines, as it already agreed with the two airlines in July to a conduct a code-share operation for all routes between Korea and China.
Asiana, which has more routes to China than Korean Air, may join hands with Air China, with which it has operated code-sharing flights since February.
The two Korean carriers are also developing connection programs for the triangular route linking Gimpo, Haneda and Hongqiao.