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Korean Air to launch Budapest Link and plans further takeovers

Korean Air has restarted plans to launch flights to the Hungarian capital, Budapest, and will resume three other routes that were suspended at the start of the pandemic.

Starting Oct. 3, the airline will connect Seoul Incheon (ICN) and Budapest (BUD) once a week on Mondays using a 269-seat Boeing 787-9. Frequencies will increase to twice a week from October 31 and the carrier intends to add a third weekly flight at a later date.

Alliance member SkyTeam launched cargo services to Budapest in February 2020 and announced plans to launch seasonal passenger service from May. However, the latter route did not materialize due to COVID-19 travel restrictions.

Competition on the new route will come from LOT Polish Airlines, which operates a twice-weekly Budapest-Seoul service using 787-9s. The Polish airline launched the route in September 2019.

“We had seen Budapest as an attractive destination even before the pandemic,” said Park Jeong Soo, senior vice president and head of passenger network at Korean Air. “Korean Air’s inaugural flight to Budapest will allow our customers to experience and enjoy the beautiful nature and various attractions of the city.

“With many Korean automakers operating in the region due to the Hungarian government’s investment policy, we also expect to attract business demand.”

Budapest Airport’s airline development manager, Balázs Bogáts, added that market demand to and from South Korea is significant enough to support an increase in 3-times-a-week flights.

Many Korean companies are established in Hungary due to the Hungarian government’s investment policy in the automotive industry. Battery cell maker SK Innovation is building its third battery plant in Hungary, while EcoPro BM is also building a plant to produce cathodes used in electric car batteries.

Korean Air’s arrival in Budapest resumes Air China’s resumption of flights from Beijing Capital (PEK) in July, further strengthening links with Asia.

In addition to the addition of Eastern Europe, from October 1, Korean Air plans to resume routes to the United Arab Emirates and Thailand, suspended since March 2020.

The airline will restore its network in the Middle East by restarting Seoul Incheon-Dubai (DXB) three times a week using Airbus A330-300s. Flights will depart Seoul every Monday, Thursday and Saturday at 1:20 p.m. and arrive in Dubai at 6:55 p.m. The return flight will depart the same day at 23:00 and arrive at ICN at 12:40 the following day.

Korean Air will also resume services to Phuket (HKT) with four weekly flights on Wednesdays, Thursdays, Saturdays and Sundays, while service to Routes Asia 2023 host Chiang Mai (CNX) will also return with 4 weekly flights. days. Both routes will use 737-800s.