Third Budget Airliner to Debut

2007-05-24 : 17:38
By Kim Rahn
Staff Reporter

Another regional carrier is preparing to start flying in the first half of next year.

Yeongnam Air, a small-sized airline based in the Yeongnam area _ North and South Gyeongsang Province regions including Busan and Daegu _ announced Tuesday that it has signed a contract with a Dutch aircraft maker for its source of jetliners.

It is the first time for a regional carrier in Korea to operate jets. Korea already has two regional, budget airlines _ Jeju Air and Hansung Airlines _ and both of them operate turboprop aircraft.

The carrier, which was launched last December, plans to obtain a license for irregular operations soon, receive an air operator's certificate by the end of this year, and launch its first flight around February 2008.

Its operations will cover the Busan-Incheon and Busan-Jeju routes.

Yeongnam Air plans to adopt two to three Fokker-100 airplanes from the Dutch company Fokker in the latter half of this year, and more planes next year.

The Fokker-100, a medium-sized jetliner with 109 seats, is good at landing and taking off in bad visibility and resistant against bad weather, a Yeongnam Air official said.

The carrier has sent Fokker-100 maintenance experts to the Netherlands for the contract. It has also signed contracts with Fokker-100 maintenance agencies in Europe and Asia to ensure machine parts supply.

``Our image set will be somewhat different from low-budget carriers Jeju Air and Hansung Airlines which focus mainly on low cost. We'll offer more comfortable and enjoyable air travel, such as providing more room for passengers by reducing the number of seats from 109 to 80,'' he said.

The carrier plans to set the airfare at a price lower than that of the national flag carriers _ Korean Air and Asiana Airlines _ but provide services comparable to them.

It also plans to operate regular flights and become the main carrier in the Yeongnam area.
For the scheme, the airline will recruit 150 workers including pilots, engineers, cabin crew and office workers. The recruitment announcement can be seen at its Web site, and those from the Yeongnam region will enjoy preferential treatment.

The airline will also move its headquarters to expand its office and establish a branch office in Daegu.

``Passengers based in Gyeongsang area have been inconvenienced as the nation's air traffic is centered in Seoul and Incheon. We'll provide service with Busan as our main hub,'' the official said.