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April air passengers fall to lowest level since 1997


The number of South Korean air travelers fell to the lowest level in more than two decades in April due to entry restrictions and lower demand amid the coronavirus pandemic, industry data showed Tuesday.

The number of air passengers on domestic and international routes here plunged to 1.35 million last month, down 22 percent from 1.74 million a month earlier and down 87 percent from 10.14 million a year earlier, according to Air Portal, an aviation data provider operated by the Korea Civil Aviation Association (KCA).

The April figure marked the lowest level since January 1997, when the corresponding number reached 3.7 million, the data showed.

Local airlines have suspended most of their flights on international routes since March as an increasing number of countries have closed their borders or have taken other measures related to incoming passengers due to concerns over the coronavirus pandemic.

The number of flights operated by local airlines also plummeted 73 percent to 16,057 in April from 59,294 a year earlier, the data showed.

In May, Air Portal said it expected travel demand to recover compared with last month, with domestic air travel demand on the rise as the COVID-19 outbreak seems to have passed its peak.

From May 1-17, the number of domestic air travelers jumped 55 percent to 1.04 million from 8,143 in the same period of last month, Air Portal said.

Korean Air Lines Co. and Asiana Airlines Inc., the country's two biggest carriers, plan to start resuming flights on dozens of international routes in June as they prepare for increased travel demand after countries ease entry restrictions. (Yonhap)