South Korean air carriers, hit by unprecedented reduction in passenger traffic and suspension of routes over COVID-19, are slowly resuming international operations, according to industry sources Friday.
Korean Air plans to open 32 out of 110 international routes from June 1. It will also resume operation of flights to Washington, Seattle, Vancouver and Toronto in 50 days after the routes have been halted since March.
The number of routes to San Francisco, Chicago and Atlanta will be also expanded.
For Southeast Asian destinations, Korean Air plans to resume operation of flights to Ho Chi Minh, Hanoi, Singapore, Yangon and Kuala Lumpur.
European routes such as to Amsterdam and Frankfurt will be also reopened.
But Korean Air said it is resuming operation of international routes not due to an increase in consumer demand, but to prepare for the travel demand is recovered as situations over COVID-19 is improved.
US routes and Southeast Asian routes contributes 26 percent and 25 percent of Korean Air’s sales in the international routes.
Another full-service carrier Asiana Airlines has already resumed operation of Incheon-San Francisco and Incheon-Narita routes from May 1.
The company said it is too soon to expect the number of passengers to be recovered, but decided to prepare to maintain supply for possible demand.
Foreign air carriers such as Turkish Airlines also decided to resume flights to 19 countries including South Korea from June 1.
Qatar Airways said it plans to reopen 50 percent or 80 routes of international flights by June.
As of Friday, a total of 152 countries have banned or restricted entry of passengers from Korea.
By Kim Da-sol (email@example.com