Korean Air Continues European Network Restoration

Credit: Rob Finlayson

Korean Air plans to increase its European network at the start of the northern summer 2023 season, with Prague the latest city scheduled to return.

The carrier has filed plans to relaunch service between Seoul Incheon (ICN) and Prague (PRG) from March 27 after suspending the 8,237-km (4,448-nm) route three years ago. Flights will operate three times per week using Boeing 777-300ERs, with the option of adding a fourth weekly frequency depending on demand.

“This is an important milestone not only on the way to resuming operations and returning to the 2019 figures, but also in terms of building a network of direct routes to Asia,” Prague Airport chairman Jiří Pos said.

According to data from CzechTourism, almost 400,000 Korean tourists visited the Czech Republic in 2019. However, pandemic restrictions saw the number of arrivals drop to 42,000 in 2020 and just 8,000 the following year.

Sabre Market Intelligence data shows that O&D traffic between Prague and Seoul totaled 232,505 two-way passengers in 2019, equivalent to about 318 passengers per day each way.

Korean Air was one of two carriers to serve the market nonstop during the year, flying 3X-weekly using 787-9s. Czech Airlines also provided a 4X-weekly service onboard Airbus A330-300s.

Korean Air has been gradually rebuilding its European network since last June when South Korea dropped its quarantine requirements for passengers arriving into the country. For the week commencing Jan. 16, OAG data shows the SkyTeam member is flying to nine European destinations, offering 38 round trips per week.

Alongside Prague, the latest schedules indicate that four more routes will return at the beginning of the summer season. The airline has scheduled the resumption of flights from Seoul to Istanbul (IST), Madrid (MAD), St Petersburg (LED) and Zurich (LED). However, reservation for the four is unavailable at the present time.

Before the pandemic, Prague had nine nonstop connections to destinations in Asia, including service to Xi'an (ZIY) with China Eastern and Chengdu (CTU) with Sichuan Airlines, but none are currently operating.

David Casey

David Casey is Editor in Chief of Routes, the global route development community's trusted source for news and information.