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Air traffic rises 16 pct last year but still below pre-pandemic levels

Corporate Newsroom 06:00 January 18, 2023

SEOUL, Jan. 18 (Yonhap) -- South Korea's air traffic rose 16 percent in 2022 from a year earlier on unleashed pent-up demand for travel amid eased COVID-19 virus curbs, the transport ministry said Wednesday.

Airlines, domestic and foreign, made a total of 539,788 flights over South Korea last year, up from 465,469 flights a year ago, the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport said in a statement.

The ministry said the 2022 number of flights still stood at 65 percent of the pre-pandemic levels.

Air traffic in the country had gradually increased in recent years from around 739,000 in 2016 to 842,000 in 2019 before plunging to around 421,000 in 2020 due to the pandemic.

Late last year, travel demand began to recover, helped by eased travel restrictions in some countries.

In October, South Korea removed a COVID-19 polymerase chain reaction test requirement for inbound travelers on the first day of their arrival. Japan lifted the ban on the number of inbound passengers and resumed visa-free travel for visitors from specific countries, including South Korea, on Oct. 11.

As a result, the number of international flights jumped 36 percent on-year to 276,356 last year, while that of domestic flights rose 0.4 percent to 263,432 during the same period, the statement said.

Incheon International Airport was the busiest airport in South Korea last year with an average of 521 flights a day, followed by Jeju International Airport with 486 flights and Gimpo International Airport with 440 flights, it said.

Planes of South Korea's national flag carrier Korean Air Co. and No. 2 carrier Asiana Airlines Inc. are parked at Incheon International Airport, west of Seoul, on Dec. 1, 2020. (Yonhap)

Planes of South Korea's national flag carrier Korean Air Co. and No. 2 carrier Asiana Airlines Inc. are parked at Incheon International Airport, west of Seoul, on Dec. 1, 2020. (Yonhap)

kyongae.choi@yna.co.kr
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