The number of air passengers in South Korea increased 3.8 percent in April from a year earlier as expanded international flights to and from Japan and Southeast Asia and domestic flights to Jeju island more than offset a sharp fall in flyers between Korea and China due to Beijing’s travel ban to Korea in retaliation against Seoul’s deployment of an U.S. antimissile system.
According to the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport on Sunday, the total number of air passengers in April reached 86.8 million, up 3.8 percent from a year ago. The number of international air passengers in the month came at 5.82 million and domestic passengers at 2.86 million, up 2.1 percent and 7.4 percent, respectively, from a year ago. The number of air passengers rose 12.6 percent on year in January, 8.7 percent in February and 8.9 percent in March.
The gain is attributable to the ministry’s measures to approve airlines to add routes to and from Japan and the Southeast Asian countries amid China’s travel ban to Korea. The number of travelers between Korea and China declined 22.5 percent on year in March and 47 percent in April since the Chinese government had imposed a travel ban on Chinese tour groups going to Korea on March 15.
The nation’s flag carriers added 54 routes to Japan and Southeast Asia across the country’s airports, making up canceled Korea-China flights by Chinese air carriers. As a result, the number of travelers going between Korea and Japan rose 30.3 percent and between Korea and Southeast Asia increased 23.5 percent in April.
The number of domestic flight users also increased last month, with travelers going to the nation’s most popular holiday destination Jeju Island rising 7.7 percent to 2.5 million.
The ministry estimated that the number of air passengers has increased in May on year as well, thanks to the long holiday week in the first week of May and increased routes to Japan and Southeast Asian countries.
By Cho Si-young
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