SEOUL, Sept. 3 (Korea Bizwire) — Eastar Jet Co., a South Korean low-cost carrier, said Sunday it has resumed services on international routes after a 3 1/2-year hiatus induced by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Eastar Jet began providing three flights a week on the route from Gimpo to Songsan in Taiwan starting Saturday, the company said in a statement.
The budget carrier also plans to offer flights on the routes from Incheon to Tokyo, Osaka, Bangkok and Da Nang from Sept. 20 and to Fukuoka and Nha Trang from Oct. 29, it said.
In March, Eastar restarted services on domestic routes, starting with the Gimpo-Jeju route, a month after receiving an air operator certificate (AOC) from the transport ministry.
Eastar had suspended most of its flights on domestic and international routes since March 24, 2020, due to the pandemic, and its AOC became ineffective in May that year.
The carrier operated 23 B737-800s to serve a total of 38 domestic and international routes before the pandemic hit the airline industry.
It aims to increase the number of its chartered planes to 10 from the current four — three B737-800s and one B737-8 — by the end of this year.
Three more B737-800s and three B737-8 planes will be added by the end of the year, the company said, adding the planes will be injected into international routes to Japan, China and Southeast Asian countries in the second half depending on travel demand.
Eastar applied for court receivership in January 2021, as it had failed to find a strategic investor since July 2020, when Jeju Air Co., the country’s biggest budget carrier, scrapped its plan to acquire Eastar amid the pandemic.
In 2021, local property developer Sung Jung Co. acquired the entire stake in Eastar following the carrier’s overall stock cancellation worth 48.5 billion won (US$36.7 million). Sung Jung injected 112 billion won into Eastar.
In January this year, Sung Jung handed over its stake in Eastar to VIG Partners, and the local private equity fund injected 110 billion won into the carrier.
Eastar aims to achieve 146 billion won in sales this year. It reported 551 billion won in sales in 2019 before the pandemic broke out.