Malaysian long-haul, low-fare airline, AirAsia X, has revealed plans to extend its network in South Korea with the introduction of the only direct flight between Kuala Lumpur and Busan. The carrier will introduce services to Busan’s Gimhae International Airport, from July 15, 2013 on a four times weekly schedule using an Airbus A330-300 configured with 12 Premium Flatbed seats and 365 Economy seats.
AirAsia X already serves Seoul Incheon from its base at Kuala Lumpur International Airport, a route it launched in November 2010 on a daily basis. It competes with Korean Air and Malaysia Airlines between the two capitals but had secured a 42 per cent share of the estimated 446,000 bi-directional O&D passenger traffic during its first full year of operations (2011), a figure it matched in 2012.
Although Busan will be a new point on the AirAsia X network the city is already served by wider AirAsia Group affiliates with AirAsia Japan offering flights from the Japanese capital Tokyo. With over 3.6 million people, Busan is the second largest city and the number one trading port in Korea.
“AirAsia X’s entry into Busan is in line with our stated strategy of adding flight frequencies and destinations to a few priority Asia Pacific markets, like Korea. We believe that our entry will stimulate new travel demands from the city and its surrounding regions,” said Azran Osman-Rani, Chief Executive Officer, AirAsia X.
“This is what AirAsia X is about – providing affordable international travel for everyone. Guests from Busan will now be able to fly to Malaysia and thereafter use Kuala Lumpur as a gateway to over 85 destinations served by the AirAsia Group in South East Asia and beyond, which includes regional ASEAN cities or long-haul sectors served by AirAsia X,” he added
Jeju Island, is the only self-governing province in South Korea, and lies South of the Korean peninsula. This volcanic island is dominated by Hallasan Mountain, which stands 1,950 meters high and is Korea’s highest mountain. It boasts a subtropical climate, much warmer than the rest of the Korean Peninsula, and is the location of many citrus fruit farms.
“We estimate that more than 60 per cent of AirAsia X passengers to and from Busan will be first time visitors, which will contribute significantly to tourism growth, allowing AirAsia X the opportunity to open up new market segments from Malaysia and Busan with its affordable fares.”Azran Osman-Rani
Chief Executive Officer, AirAsia X
Because of its isolation, Jeju Island has developed its own distinct culture and traditions; including the commonly found “stone grandfather” statues and matriarchal family structures. Jeju’s tourist attractions include beaches, folk villages, waterfalls, Yeomiji, an indoor botanical garden on the southern half of the island, volcanic rock structures along the coast, Hallasan Mountain and various other parks, resorts and casinos designed specifically to cater to tourists.
“We estimate that more than 60 per cent of AirAsia X passengers to and from Busan will be first time visitors, which will contribute significantly to tourism growth, allowing AirAsia X the opportunity to open up new market segments from Malaysia and Busan with its affordable fares. Guests from Malaysia and surrounding regions may also fly to Busan via Kuala Lumpur hub or use Busan as a gateway to beautiful Jeju Island which is only an hour away by flight.” said Osman-Rani.
In 2012 an estimated 12,000 bi-directional O&D passengers flew between Kuala Lumpur and Busan despite the lack of direct air services. The market is currently dominated by Korean Air with transfers via Seoul Incheon and Seoul Gimpo as well as with Vietnam Airlines via Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City. Average fares on this route during 2012 were estimated at $612 each way and AirAsia X is initially offering special deals at $65 for Economy and $230 for Premium passengers in a move that will certainly stimulate the market.