South Korea's Ministry of Land, Transport and Maritime Affairs stated it is upgrading the security alert at Incheon, Gimpo, Gimhae, Cheongju and Jeju airports to the highest level this week to ensure safety during the G-20 Seoul summit (chosun, 08-Nov-2010). The red alert, the highest on the colour-coded scale, means 50% of passengers are screened by hand and 50% of carry-on luggage is opened and searched. It is the first time the alert has been raised for the country's major airports.
South Korea declares highest security alert
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Korea's Eastar Jet LCC joins U-FLY LCC alliance to strengthen position in China and Southeast Asia
Korean LCC Eastar Jet has become the fifth member of the U-FLY LCC Alliance, established in Jan-2016. Eastar Jet also becomes the first member not affiliated with the HNA Group or based in Greater China. Eastar Jet's membership comes after its larger competitor Jeju Air became a founding member of the competing LCC Value Alliance in May-2016.
For now both alliances are more like commercial partnerships, where new technology (Air Black Box, compatible with IATA's New Distribution Capability) enables the member airlines to cross-sell not just seats, but also the critical components of varied ancillary revenue. Both alliances have small costs – and thus low risk – while the U-FLY Alliance is unique in being a platform for the ever-expansive HNA Group to foster synergies among companies.
Although it is Korea's smallest major LCC, Eastar Jet has the largest LCC operation into mainland China. Eastar expects to benefit from potential cooperation through U-FLY; it will allow it to reach more inland and western Chinese points that are too far or thin for its network, but are where U-FLY's three mainland members are based.
Air Seoul launches to support its parent, Asiana. Korea's seventh LCC, Nambu Air, plans start-up
Asiana Airlines has joined All Nippon Airways in having two LCCs: Asiana's Air Seoul launched in the Korean domestic market on 11-Jul-2016 and will expand to international markets in Oct-2016. Air Seoul gives Asiana access to the Seoul market via an LCC under 100% ownership, whereas its first LCC, Air Busan, is mostly focused on the Busan market and Asiana is only one investor. Asiana is transferring slots to Air Seoul at Jeju airport, which is capacity constrained.
Asiana must make up for the lost time when it was largely absent from the Seoul LCC market, which is becoming dominated by Jeju Air, Jin Air and foreign LCCs. Yet Air Seoul's agenda is not ambitious – starting by taking over monopoly Asiana routes to secondary Japanese cities. Such a cautious "hand-me-down" route strategy may improve finances but prevent Air Seoul from establishing a necessary presence in more major markets. It is also unclear whether Asiana's secondary short haul international routes, with which it has struggled over a few years, can even be profitable on an LCC platform. It may be early days for Air Seoul, but it is flying A321s in a very low density 171-seat configuration.
Meanwhile, a seventh LCC – Nambu Air – has been proposed by South Gyeongsang Province, which lost a bid to construct a new airport for southeastern Korea, including the second largest city Busan.