South Korea’s Incheon airport will be free of flight restrictions on Wednesday

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South Korea’s Incheon airport will open 24 hours a day without any flight restrictions from Wednesday under current plans. The Department for Transport announced the plans on Friday which pave the way for a significant increase in flights from the airport.

Easing of restrictions

As a result of the changes, the number of flights landing in Incheon per hour will be allowed to return to 40, the current flight cap is only 20 flights per hour. The flight cap has been in place since April 2020 to facilitate border control in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic. The airport’s nighttime curfew is also removed, allowing flights throughout the night.

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The airport has seen demand for international travel grow faster than it had anticipated. South Korea is expanding its weekly international flight operations by 230 flights in June, 130 more than previously planned. The country is also looking to ease COVID-19 entry restrictions in hopes of boosting tourist numbers.

The country’s flag carrier was the first to ground its fleet of A380 aircraft. Photo: Thomas Bonon.

Effect of COVID-19 on South Korea

South Korea was one of the first countries to see its airline industry feel the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. Like many airlines, the national airline, based at Incheon Airport, has been devastated by the pandemic.

Korean Air was the first airline to ground its Airbus A380 and plans to bring the type back only from July this year. In May 2020, Simple Flying revealed that the airline had launched a new plan to secure KRW 2.2 trillion ($1.79 billion) to overcome the impacts of COVID-19. The money was to come from issuing shares and securing a package of government aid.

The first trillion KRW was to come from issuing new ones. The new shares were to be offered to existing shareholders first, and any remaining shares that had not been purchased would be offered to the general public. Around 79.3 million shares were to be sold for around 12,600 KRW each ($10).

The easing of restrictions has helped the country’s aviation recovery. Photo: Vincenzo Pace.

The move would have nearly doubled the number of shares on the market for the airline, from 95 million shares to 175 million. The listing for this news was scheduled to take place in the last week of July 2020, July 29.

Another KRW trillion was to come from government aid programs. KRW 700 billion in asset-backed securities and bonds would be backed by the government as part of the industry-wide aid packages, with an additional KRW 300 billion in bonds from government banks such as Korea Bank development and the Korea Export-Import Bank.

The decision to completely remove restrictions on the airline’s main base is a sign of the success of these measures in helping the country’s flag carrier through the pandemic. Last month, the airline announced it would add more than 30 weekly flights to Europe and the United States after COVID-19 rules were relaxed earlier this month.

What do you think of the lifting of restrictions at Incheon airport? Let us know in the comments below.

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