South Korean carrier Air Busan has made a formal application to the US Department of Transportation to seek a foreign air carrier permit to launch flights between Busan and Guam from next summer. The carrier plans to offer a four times weekly schedule on the international route from around June 30, 2015.
Perhaps little known outside of its home market, Air Busan is a growing, low-cost regional Korean air carrier that was established in August 2007 and began providing scheduled service in October 2008. It currently operates a fleet of 13 aircraft (a 14th is due this month) on 14 domestic and international routes with plans for gradual growth within the Asian/Pacific region.
It has its base at Gimhae International Airport in Busan, the largest port city in South Korea located on the southeastern-most tip of the Korean peninsula, from where it offers internal flights to Jeju and the capital Seoul (serving Gimpo Airport) and international scheduled service to points in Japan, China (including Hong Kong and Macau), Taiwan, the Philippines and Cambodia.
Air Busan is currently in a growth period and is considering the introduction of its first widebody equipment to support its proposed network development. The proposed Guam service will be flown “using A320 or A321” equipment, according to the airline’s DOT application but larger equipment may be required for further expansion in the US market.
In its documentation filed with the US DOT, Air Busan said it “might in the future offer service with other airplanes from its fleet, adjust its proposed service patterns, and introduce service to other points in the United States, including Hawaii and the US mainland”.
Air Busan plans to operate the four times weekly Busan – Guam link with flights departing from Busan on Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays at 21:30, and arriving in Guam at 03:10 the following morning. The flights will return at 04:10, according to its draft schedule and arrive back in Busan at 07:20 on Tuesdays, Wednesday, Fridays and Sundays. It plans to deploy an A320 configured in a single class with 162 seats on the route but may utilise an A321 with 191-195 seats if warranted by demand.
The Busan – Guam market is currently served on a four times weekly basis by Korean Air, while Jeju Airlines will launch a twice weekly offering from January 2015, according to OAG Schedules Analyser. In the last full year of operation (2013), Korean Air carried over 22,000 bi-directional passengers on the route with estimated loads of 72.5 per cent from Busan and 78.3 per cent from Guam.