South Korea’s top budget carrier Jeju Air Co. will add two more direct routes to Chinese cities amid signs of recovery in the number of Chinese tourists to Korea.
The company said on Monday that it will launch a new route from Busan, Korea to Yantai, China on Oct. 28 to cater to growing travel demand to and from the region in northeastern Shandong Province.
The new flight, which will be offered four times a week, is an addition to another new route to and from China - between Incheon and Haikou, China - that will be launched on Sept. 19.
Jeju Air has decided to add the new routes to the neighboring country because the China-Korea route has a great growth potential, said an unnamed company official. Jeju Air will seek a breakthrough in growth by expanding its air services to China and promoting use of domestic regional airports in Korea, the official added.
The latest addition in the Korea-Chinese air service also comes as the number of Chinese group travelers to Korea has recently picked up after plunging last year due to the diplomatic row between Seoul and Beijing over the deployment of U.S. anti-missile system.
The number of Chinese visitors to Korea stood at 8.09 million in 2016 before declining due to diplomatic tension between the two countries. The figure has been on recovering trend since March. In June, 480,000 Chinese visitors came to Korea, down 36.7 percent from June in 2016, but up 88.2 percent from 255,000 in June last year.
Unlike many Korean businesses that remained shy about investment in their business in China last year, Jeju Air upped the number of flights from Incheon to Weihai in eastern Shandong Province from seven to 14 a week. It currently operates 13 regular routes from Korea’s Incheon, Busan, and Daegu, to 10 cities in China including Hong Kong and Macau.
Shares of Jeju Air ended at 40,100 won ($36) on Monday, up 0.75 percent from the previous session.
By Moon Ji-woong and Lee Eun-joo
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