Korean Air, Asiana Enter 2nd Round of Budget Flight Battle
By Kim Rahn
Which will fly better, the butterfly or seagull?
Korean Air and Asiana Airlines, Korea's two airline heavyweights, have both set up budget carrier businesses. Korean Air will launch Jin Air, with a butterfly as its symbol, while Asiana Airlines will introduce Air Busan, which boasts the seagull as its I.D. Competition is expected to be strong between the two.
Jin Air will launch on July 17.
It recently disclosed its corporate identity (CI), presenting a youthful image. With the slogan ``Fly, better fly ― Jin Air,'' the logo is a blue and purple butterfly on a yellowish green background.
The flight attendants' ``uniform'' will be a T-shirt and jeans, with the nickname of the crew being ``Jini.''
The carrier will operate eight flights per day between Seoul and Jeju, and the service will increase to 18 in December. Eight flights will operate on the Seoul-Busan route starting December, and another eight on the Busan-Jeju route in April.
It now has one 189-seat B737-800 plane, and will have two more by the end of the year. The airline will also adopt two 292-seat A300-600 aircraft by April.
The fare was set at 69,000 won for the Seoul-Jeju route, 78 percent of Korean Air's. Jin Air will present various fares according to time and day.
To cut costs, the carrier will not operate call centers, only receiving reservations online. To reduce time spent on boarding, passengers will not be allocated a seat number but a number of one of three zones on the aircraft, and will choose their seat on a first-come-first-served basis.
International operations will be available in about a year, according to the government rule on new carriers. ``We'll fly mainly to China, Japan and Southeast Asia, but not to long-haul routes where Korean Air operates and the fare is high. In the long run, Korean Air is Jin Air's competitor,'' Kim Jae-kun, president of Jin Air, said.
Air Busan recently obtained its license for regular operation. It plans to apply for an air operators certificate in July for the scheduled launch of the service on Oct. 27.
The Busan-based carrier also unveiled its CI ― a flapping seagull, the wings of which look like blue waves of a sea. ``With the dynamic seagull as a motif, the CI combines the sea, seagull and the sky, representing Air Busan's hope to fly to the world,'' an Air Busan official said.
The seagull is a symbol of the port city Busan ― one of the Busan people's favorite songs is ``Busan Galmaegi'' (Busan Seagull). The slogan of the airline is ``The Great Wings of Busan,''
The first operation will be on the Seoul-Busan route. With three B737 aircrafts, Air Busan will start providing service between Busan and Jeju within this year. It expects to launch international operations around October 2009 for China, Japan and Southeast Asia.
Air Busan hired 30 pilots and staff members in May, and is recruiting more for cabin crew and engineers ― for 60 positions, more than 5,000 people applied.
The airline has not set the fare or decided on details about cabin service. ``The fare will be lower than Asiana's, but not that low as other budget airlines, like Jeju Air and Hansung Airlines, as we'll provide quality service,'' the official said.