A decade has now passed since Korea launched
it′s first low－cost carrier and the market is going from strength to strength.
It′s fair to say the budget carriers had some teething problems in the early stages，…
but they′re thriving now… thanks to their cheap air fares and solid reputation for safety.
Kim Min－ji has more. It′s been ten years since Jeju Air， Korea′s
first low－cost carrier， got off the ground. Despite some early setbacks， it wasn′t
long before others Jin Air， t′way， Air Busan and Eastar jumped into the market.
Now they′ve become a popular choice for air travelers. ″Low－cost carriers have grown an average
of six percent every year since 2010 to account for more than half of all domestic flights.
Now their eyes are on boosting their presence on international routes.″
Currently， some carriers offer flights to popular travel destinations like Guam or Bangkok…
and plans are in motion to even go as far as Hawaii.
Their success can be attributed to the low－cost factor.
Companies stripped away services， such as in－flight meals and amenities… like blankets
and toiletries，… to keep prices as low as possible.
″I′m obviously using the service because it′s cheap. And this time round， I got
an even better deal with a promotional discount.″ ″I′m a student， so I was looking for
cheap flights and came across this airline. I don′t really mind if they don′t offer
conventional services because my trip is short.″ However， Korean consumers weren′t all
that positive when budget airlines first launched as it was generally thought that cheap meant
less safe. Many carriers had small fleets comprised of
older planes，… and with a packed flight schedule，… it was hard to keep up cabin
maintenance. ″Although some may think， low－cost carriers
may compromise safety for cheap fares， that′s not the case for us. We abide by the government′s
safety regulations as well as international standards.″
Experts expect the low－cost airline boom to continue… as long as companies are able
to adjust their strategies and stay ahead of aviation and tourism industry trends.
″It′s not like these budget carriers can deploy planes that can carry hundreds of people.
So rather than focus on long－haul flights， they should focus on gaining competitiveness
in short range flights to popular destinations in Asia.″
The local industry is forecast to grow three to four－fold over the next ten years.
Despite the projected explosion in growth，… experts say the government should support
local budget carriers as foreign players have their eyes on the Korean market.
Kim Min－ji， Arirang News.