Jeju Air Eyes Fixed On Japan, 737 MAX For Southeast Asia
CHIANG MAI, Thailand—South Korea’s Jeju Air is looking to further solidify its spot as the largest carrier between Japan and South Korea as it aims to recover 82% of its international network by the end of 2023.
The LCC is looking forward to the delivery of its first Boeing 737-8, expected later this year, to support this effort. Jeju Air, which currently has an all-Boeing fleet of 37 aircraft, is looking to have a 50-strong fleet by 2025.
The Japanese market is one of Jeju Air’s top 2023 priorities, alongside plans to expand its medium-haul network. Speaking at Routes Asia 2023, Kim Kyong Won, Jeju Air’s director of commercial strategy, said its second priority market is China. Once the 737-8s start to arrive, Jeju Air will turn its attention to destinations farther away, with Kim name-checking Indonesia and Malaysia as potential new markets. Management will also study the feasibility of introducing service to destinations in east India.
CAPA/OAG data shows Jeju Air’s weekly seat capacity to Japan dwarves all other international markets at 37,412 seats. That compares to 10,904 seats to second-placed Thailand.
Kim also highlighted the lack of slots at Jeju International airport, which would stem the growth of the highly profitable and important route. Seoul Gimpo (GMP)-Jeju (CJU) is the world’s busiest city pairing. The lack of slots at CJU is preventing the LCC from opening new international routes to the island.
The South Korean authorities had floated plans to build a second Jeju airport by 2025, but the timeline has shifted right for a "comprehensive environmental and safety review."
Aviation Week Network Fleet Discovery database shows Jeju Air has 37 Boeing 737-800 in its fleet with 40 737-8 on order.