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Korean Air vows to go after LCC competition

Korean Air chairman and chief executive Walter Cho has vowed to act more aggressively against the growing competition from low-cost carriers in its home market.

Speaking during a press conference at the IATA Annual General Meeting, he says that the carrier has been watching the rise of LCCs passively, but that will now change.

“In the past we have been very passive in confronting the low-cost carriers but now they are interfering with our side of the business and it has been overgrowing the size of the market. In the future we will be taking more aggressive actions towards this market,” he says.

Cho did not elaborate further on what that action may involve.

Korean Air was instrumental in establishing budget carrier Jin Air but sold its shares when the carrier launched its initial public offering.

In the short-haul low-cost market, Jeju Air, T’way Air and Eastar Jet have grown strongly in recent years, and are now dominant forces on the domestic and short-haul international markets.

Three more carriers were granted air operating licenses in March - short-haul budget carriers Aero K and Fly Gangwon and long-haul, hybrid carrier Air Premia. All three airlines are expected to launch services towards the end of this year, or in 2020.

As Aero K and Fly Gangwon will be based in the smaller cities of Cheongju and Yangyang, respectively, they are expected to have a smaller impact on the incumbent carriers. By contrast, Air Premia's plan to operate Boeing 787-9s from Seoul Incheon on long-haul routes is expected to challenge Korean Air and Asiana Airlines.

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