Korean Air says it will operate 32 of its 110 international routes throughout the month of June fielding much needed belly capacity for the cargo division.
“The airline expects to secure more routes and capacity for cargo transport by reopening some of its international flights,” the carrier says in an operational update. “Routes with expected demand for both passengers and cargo have been selected for reopening,” it adds.
These include: Taipei, Shanghai Pudong, Beijing, Hanoi, Kuala Lumpur, Singapore, Ulaanbaatar, Frankfurt, Amsterdam, Vancouver, Toronto, Washington DC and Seattle.
The flight schedule is a shadow of its former self, representing 20 per cent of originally planned capacity, but nevertheless a bright spot. During the month of May the carrier is operating only 13 routes for 55 flights a week.
Korean says the June reinstatement of the routes is in preparation for an anticipated increase in travel demand after COVID-19 restrictions for a number of countries are relaxed.
In mid-March Korean Air Lines warned that the global coronavirus pandemic threatened its very survival after South Korea’s outbreak saw global restrictions on travel to and from South Korea.
Woo Kee-hong, Korean Air’s president, at the time that the carrier had cut more than 80 per cent of its international capacity because of the travel restrictions, compared to the 18 per cent reduction made during the 1997-1998 Asian financial crisis.
“We can easily imagine the severity of the crisis we are facing in comparison. And what is more daunting is that the situation can get worse at any time and we cannot even predict how long it will last,” Woo said in a memo to employees.
Starting the very next day, Korean Air began to use passenger aircraft to transport cargo on suspended passenger routes starting with Ho Chi Minh City and Qingdao, China from 13 March.