Korean Air has revived plans to launch flights to Hungary’s capital Budapest and will resume three more routes that were suspended at the onset of the pandemic.
From Oct. 3, the airline will connect Seoul Incheon (ICN) and Budapest (BUD) once a week on Mondays using a 269-seat Boeing 787-9 aircraft. Frequencies will increase to 2X-weekly from the Oct. 31 and the carrier intends to add a third weekly flight at a later date.
The SkyTeam alliance member launched cargo services to Budapest in February 2020 and announced its intention to start a seasonal passenger service from May. However, the latter route failed to materialize because of COVID-19-related travel restrictions.
Competition on the new route will come from LOT Polish Airlines, which operates a Budapest-Seoul service twice a week using 787-9s. Poland’s flag carrier launched the route in September 2019.
“We had considered Budapest as an attractive destination even before the pandemic,” said Park Jeong Soo, managing VP and head of passenger network at Korean Air. “Korean Air’s inaugural flight to Budapest will allow our customers to experience and appreciate the city's beautiful nature and diverse attractions.
“With many Korean automobile manufacturers located in the area due to the Hungarian government’s investment policy, we also expect to attract business demand.”
Budapest Airport’s head of airline development Balázs Bogáts added that the market demand to and from South Korea is considerable enough to support an increase to 3X-weekly flights.
Many Korean companies are located in Hungary as a result of the Hungarian government’s investment policy in the car manufacturing industry. Battery cell maker SK Innovation is building its third battery plant in Hungary, while EcoPro BM is also building a factory to produce cathodes used in electric car batteries.
The arrival of Korean Air to Budapest resumption of Air China’s resumption of flights from Beijing Capital (PEK) in July, further growing links to Asia.
In addition to the Eastern Europe addition, from Oct. 1 Korean Air plans to resume its routes to the United Arab Emirates and Thailand, which have been suspended since March 2020.
The airline will restore its Middle East network by restarting Seoul Incheon-Dubai (DXB) three times a week using Airbus A330-300 aircraft. Flights will depart from Seoul every Monday, Thursday and Saturday at 1.20 p.m. and arrive in Dubai at 6.55 p.m. The return flight will depart on the same day at 11 p.m. and arrive back in ICN at 12.40 p.m. the following day.
Korean Air will also resume services to Phuket (HKT) with four flights per week on Wednesdays, Thursdays, Saturdays and Sundays, while service to Routes Asia 2023 host Chiang Mai (CNX) will also return with 4X-weekly flights on the same days. Both routes will use 737-800s.