Incheon, Asiana popular among Chinese passengers

Updated: 2013-07-09 14:53

( Korea Herald)

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Incheon International Airport and Asiana Airlines have grown popular among Chinese travellers over recent years as a pleasant intercontinental flight transfer channel.

Of the 291 passengers who were on board Asiana Airlines’ Boeing 777 that crash-landed in San Francisco on Saturday, local time, 141 were of Chinese nationality.

This was almost double the number of Koreans or Americans, at 77 and 61, respectively.

The deaths in the crash were two Chinese teenage girls, Ye Mengyuan and Wang Linjia, who were on their way to summer camp.

Most of the Chinese nationals were tourists who had departed from China and stopped over at Incheon Airport, according to Asiana and the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport.

When it started its first international flight in 1990, Asiana strategically focused on short-distance routes, especially to neighbouring China, as longer routes to the United States and Europe were dominated by the market leader Korean Air.

As a result, the runner-up airline gained a significant reputation in the Chinese market, according to officials.

Also, the bullish tendency of the yuan over the past few years resulted in a sharp rise in the demand for international flights. As local Chinese airlines failed to meet such demand, however, many passengers turned to Korean flights as an alternative, especially for long-distance routes.

“The average proportion of transfer passengers in our flights to the United States was 43 per cent last year, and this figure rose above 50 per cent in the first half of this year,” said an official from Asiana Airlines.

“This has been a positive factor for the local airline industry, especially with the weakness of the yen and the continued decrease of Japanese tourists.”

Incheon International Airport, with its user-friendly transfer system and extensive duty-free shops, was another point of attraction for Chinese passengers.