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Domestic air traffic higher than pre-pandemic level in March

Industry 14:44 April 20, 2021

SEOUL, April 20 (Yonhap) -- South Korea's domestic air traffic surpassed the pre-pandemic level last month as more people traveled within the country with persistent restrictions on cross-border trips, data showed Tuesday.

Local airlines operated 17,166 domestic flights in March, carrying 2.6 million passengers, according to the data by the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transportation.

The latest monthly figure was up from February when the airlines offered 15,029 flights for 2.31 million passengers, and even higher than March 2019, when they operated 16,042 flights for 2.57 million passengers, the ministry said.

Unlike the full-service carriers that expanded cargo service, low-cost carriers have expanded domestic routes to make up losses from international flights that have been suspended amid the prolonged COVID-19 pandemic, offering people with alternatives for overseas trips.

With the domestic travel surge, a cost-cutting competition is intensifying as some budget airlines offer aggressive discounts, as low as 10,000 won (US$9) for a one-way ticket from Seoul to the southern resort island of Jeju, to attract travelers.

Gimpo International Airport in western Seoul is crowded with travelers on April 16, 2021. (Yonhap)

ejkim@yna.co.kr
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