Korean Air, the flag carrier of South Korea, will suspend its scheduled service from Incheon to Siem Reap amid increased competition on the route, a government aviation official said yesterday.
Sinn Chanserey Vutha, spokesman of the State Secretariat for Civil Aviation (SSCA), said the airline informed his agency several months ago of its intention to suspend service “because they could not make a profit on the route”.
In a press release issued late last week, Korean Air announced that it would cease to operate flights on the Incheon-Siem Reap route starting in early February 2017 “due to low demand and to increase profitability”. It added that the airline would focus more on in-demand routes to maximise profitability and ensure sustainability.
Provincial tourism figures show a marginal increase in South Korean visitors to Siem Reap, with total visits growing 1.24 percent year-on-year during the first nine months through the end of September.
Vutha said he suspects the airline’s decision to drop the route was not due to a decline in overall passenger traffic on the route, but rather the result of increased competition with other airlines also operating services.
“It’s suspending service due to commercial reasons as there are a lot of airlines [on this route,] which cuts into their market share,” he said.
Five carriers currently operate service from Seoul Incheon Airport, the primary airport serving Seoul, to Siem Reap. These include two full-service carriers – Korean Air and Cambodia Angkor Air – and three low-cost carriers (LCCs) – Air Seoul, Air Busan and Eastar Jet.
Vutha said Korean Air could look to operate its own LCC on the route, which would be more competitive than its full-service airline.
Jin Air, a subsidiary of Korean Air founded in 2008, operates flights to five domestic cities and 22 international destinations. An interline agreement signed with Cambodia Angkor Air in June could see the airline add Siem Reap to its regular schedule.
It previously operated charter flights to the Cambodian city on a seasonal basis.
Meanwhile, Asiana Airlines, a competitor of Korean Air, announced last month that it was handing over flight operations on its Incheon-Siem Reap route to its budget carrier subsidiary Air Seoul.