Korean Air to plough ahead with low-cost carrier launch

Despite the backdrop of record-fuel prices and competition stiff local competition,  Korean Air is going ahead with its launch next month of a budget airline off-shoot, Jin Air.  The off-shoot of national carrier, Korean Air, will begin flying between Seoul and Jeju from July 17. Seoul-Busan and Busan-Jeju flights will start by April next year. The carrier also plans to add services to China, Japan and Southeast Asia from the second half of 2009.

Jin Air intends to cut costs through steps including online-only bookings and using flight attendants to clean aircraft. Its fares will be about 80 percent the price of conventional carriers.

Chief Executive Officer Kim Jae Kun said: “Our focus will be on mid-to-short-haul demand from tourists keen on good fares. The carrier won’t levy surcharges unless fuel prices rise beyond a level it can tolerate.”

Korean Air has no plans to cut back its domestic operations following Jin Air’s entry into service, despite it flying on all three routes that Jin Air will serve.

Jin Air will operate five planes by next year, comprising three Boeing Co. 737-800s and two Airbus SAS A300-600s. It will adopt a more informal style than its parent, with brightly colored aircraft and cabin crew wearing jeans. Jin comes from a Chinese character meaning “genuine” and can also be interpreted as “jeans” (which will also form part of attendents casual attire).