[Photo provided by Asiana Airlines Inc.]
South Korea’s second largest full-service carrier Asiana Airlines Inc. made a maiden flight between Incheon and Ulaanbaatar on Tuesday after winning the route in February that had been exclusive to its bigger rival Korean Air Lines for the past 23 years.
Asiana Airlines announced Wednesday that it held an inauguration ceremony on Tuesday to celebrate the launch of the service. The air carrier won the extra opening to run Incheon-Ulaanbaatar line three times a week amid rising demand for travels to Mongolia.
The route between Incheon and Ulaanbaatar, the capital city of Mongolia, had been exclusively run by the nation’s flag carrier Korean Air since its opening in 1991. Flight demand for the route has been growing by 11 percent on average per year amid rising popularity of Mongolia as a tourist destination, and about 360,000 passengers flew from Incheon to Ulaanbaatar last year.
But the air fare between the two cities goes up above 1 million won ($846.17) during peak seasons due to the monopoly, raising complaints from travelers.
With the additional services, the line will run nine times a week, up from the current six times operated by Korean Air alone. Asiana Airlines’ flight departs at Incheon at 21:05 and arrives in Ulaanbaatar at 23:50 on Tuesdays and Thursdays (local time). On Saturdays, it departs at 20:45 and arrives in Ulaanbaatar at 23:25. It has deployed Airbus A330 for the route, a mid-sized plane with 290 seats.
The addition of this lucrative route is also expected to help improve the financial health of the debt-ridden airline.
The airline is holding a promotion event in celebration of the flight launch until the end of this month to give out flight tickets to customers who post their travel plan in Ulaanbaatar at its website.
By Chun Gyung-woon and Choi Mira
[ⓒ Pulse by Maeil Business Newspaper & mk.co.kr, All rights reserved]