Services at Korean airlines have not yet returned to pre-pandemic levels. [Image source: Korean airlines]
Demand for air travel in South Korea has picked up as countries ease Covid-19-related restrictions but services at Korean airlines have not yet returned to pre-pandemic levels.
According to data from the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport on Monday, the number of air travel passengers rose to 4.58 million in December last year from 3.79 million in September. The figure is likely to top 5 million in the first half of this year to almost return to pre-pandemic levels of 6.76 million in January 2020.
Inflight services, however, have not yet recovered except for meals. Airlines that have reduced inflight meal services after the Covid-19 outbreak have started to offer course menus to prestige seat passengers from last year.
Airlines, however, have not yet resumed its service of providing free newspapers and magazines at the gate for both domestic and international flights.
Labor shortage is an issue.
The number of Korean Air Lines Co. employees on paid leave still accounts for 20 percent of the entire workforce, although reduced from 70 percent in the early phase of the pandemic.
[Image source: Asiana Airlines]
Flight crews at Asiana Airlines Inc. had also offered inflight magic shows before the pandemic but the service has not resumed.
Airlines note that air travel demand is on a rise but it is still half of pre-pandemic levels. They say that fewer destinations due to Covid-19 have led to a cutback in service.
The beverage service offered to passengers on domestic flights is also unavailable. Airlines also cut back on the operations of lounges at Incheon International Airport. Only two out of the four lounges managed by Asiana Airlines are open.
Foreign airlines, on the other hand, have resumed some of its major services.
Cathay Pacific Airways, for example, has resumed its mileage promotion that it stopped offering during the pandemic. It now offers “Cathay Pacific Holidays,” a flight and hotel package that offers passengers discounts on tickets and mileage benefits. Inflight magazines are also back.
Finnair also increased its flights between Incheon and Helsinki to seven times a week this month after it cut down the schedules to three times a week.
Customers, in the meantime, are also unhappy as Korean Air will revise its mileage redemption program based on distance instead of region from April. This would mean that more mileage would be needed for long-haul services.
By Seo Jin-woo and Han Yubin
[ⓒ Pulse by Maeil Business Newspaper & mk.co.kr, All rights reserved]