[Photo by Yonhap]
Despite full lifting in virus-related restrictions and opening of borders across the world, South Koreans are not rushing overseas as their pent-up demand has been constrained by cheap local currency, expensive air tickets from spike in fuel cost, and high prices across the world.
A round trip between Incheon and New York costs 3.5-4.0 million won ($3,093.34), nearly doubling from the level before the virus outbreak in 2019.
A return flight from Paris averages 3.0-3.2 million won, from London 5.3-5.6 million won, and from Tokyo 600,000 won.
The soaring oil price this year is the main factor behind the surge in air fares.
Flag carrier Korean Air Lines has upped its fuel surcharge on international routes to 42,900-339,300 won for a one-way trip in July, more than quadrupled from five months ago.
Tourism agencies cannot aggressively market tickets ahead of the peak summer season as expensive ticket prices leave small margin.
The ticket prices could come down lower when flights increase in the third quarter.
According to data compiled by the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport, passengers traveling on the international routes of flag carriers last month totaled 556,065, more than tripled from February. Available seats provided during the same period, however, rose only 50 percent to 749,438, taking up a mere one tenth of 6,364,404 seats provided in May 2019.
The transport ministry on June 8 lifted the mandatory quarantine period on arrivals from foreign countries, the cap on flight arrivals to the country and the limit on flight operation time. Still, flights on popular routes are in short, and outbound travelers are much larger than inbound travelers due to the mandatory PCR tests for arrivals to Korea.
By Moon Ga-young and Lee Ha-yeon
[ⓒ Pulse by Maeil Business Newspaper & mk.co.kr, All rights reserved]