South Korean low-cost carrier starts KK direct flight

Masidi (centre), Lee (fourth right), Bangkuai (third left) and Yapp (second right) at the Jeju Air inauguration press conference at Sabah Tourism Board building in Kota Kinabalu yesterday.

Masidi (centre), Lee (fourth right), Bangkuai (third left) and Yapp (second right) at the Jeju Air inauguration press conference at Sabah Tourism Board building in Kota Kinabalu yesterday.

KOTA KINABALU: Jeju Air, South Korea’s pioneer low-cost carrier, seriously contends to increase Korean arrivals into Sabah, its first Malaysian destination.

Its vice president, Seok-joo Lee revealed, the company is targeting an overall USD700 millon in annual sales for 2016 and is expecting its July 20 commenced daily direct flight into Kota Kinabalu from Incheon to contribute a lot into the figure this year.

Lee said, the 10-year old Jeju Air transformed the country’s international air travel accessibility and caused an explosive increase in overseas travel among the Korean population travel, in general.

“We experienced over 20% growth since then and our annual growth rate is still over 20%,” said the vice president at the Jeju Air inauguration flight press conference at Sabah Tourism Board building here yesterday.

“There was a dramatic turnaround around 2010 and last year, we went IPO (initial public offering). We were pioneer of Korean LCC industry but nowadays in Korean LCC industry there are five LCCs in Korea. They are experiencing explosive schedules as well, that means there are more Koreans traveling overall.

“We increase market size in general. We serve more people to go all over the world so if you see Jeju Air in your market, Kota Kinabalu, that means there will be more Koreans to come here. You will see more LCC from Korea as well because we are leading player, so everyone here, I would like to say like this, please expect more to come from Korea with Jeju Air and we will do our best to serve everyone here at Kota Kinabalu,” he added.

Jeju Air had thus far kept around 20% lower than full serve carrier rates in every market penetrated and will maintain the same price policy in Sabah, pledged Lee.

According to Tourism, Culture and Environment minister Datuk Seri Panglima Masidi Manjun, the Korean market average load factor had seen an increase of 87% thus far compared to the 81.3% for 2015.

However, he urged Sabahans to reciprocate by traveling to the country from the state.

“What we are going to do to ensure that they continue to fly? Simple. Not only we want the Koreans to come in but we also want to encourage Sabahans to go there and use their airlines,” said Masidi.

Jeju Air arrived just before midnight two days ago with 195 passengers and crew members on board.

Jeju Air is the fourth Korean-based airline to operate direct nights to KKIA after Eastarjet,   Asiana Airlines and Jin Air.

As of 2015,   138,867 South Koreans had visited Sabah,   an increase of 21.6% from the previous year.

Tourism receipts increased from RM479 million to RM550 million in 2015,   making it the third largest market source with 32.4% share.

With the addition of Jeju Air,   Kota Kinabalu International Airport now serves four Korean airlines with a total seat capacity of close to 5,000. Korean arrivals are also contributed by chartered flights out of Incheon and Busan.

Sabah Tourism Board chairman Datuk Joniston Bangkuai and general manager Gordon Yapp as well as Jeju Air assistant manager Cheon Kyu Park were also present at the event.