UPDATE : 2018.11.16 FRI 13:10
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S. Korea's budget airlines' operating profit jumps twofold in 2017

SEOUL, Feb. 16 (Yonhap) -- South Korea's six budget carriers reported a combined operating income of 278.3 billion won (US$257.9 million) in 2017, up nearly twofold from the previous year, industry data showed Friday.

The strong figure was achieved as local low cost carriers (LCCs) have diversified their routes and expanded into new markets, despite the drop in traffic to China, which was hit by the diplomatic row caused by the deployment of a U.S. anti-missile defense system in South Korea.

Numbers provided by individual airlines and the transportation ministry said the combined sales of Jeju Air, Jin Air, Air Busan, Air Seoul, Eastar Jet and T'way Airlines reached 3.63 trillion won, up 35 percent on-year. Operating income surged 92.7 percent, with the total exceeding that of Asiana Airlines Inc., South Korea's No. 2 full-service carrier.

According to Asiana's consolidated financial statement, the company's sales hit 6.2 trillion won, with operating profit reaching a six-year high of 273.6 billion won.

Korean Air Lines Co., the country's largest flag carrier, reported in its regulatory filing that its sales gained 2.6 percent on-year to 11.8 trillion won, with operating income standing at a solid 956.2 billion won, a 11.4 percent decrease from 2016.

Of the six, Jeju Air's earnings topped 101 billion won, with its sales reported at 996.3 billion won. The operating profit marks the first time that a budget carrier exceeded the 100 billion-won mark.

The company's sales and operating profit jumped 33.3 percent and 72.6 percent, respectively.

Numbers for Jin Air and T'way advanced at a sharp pace, with the latter escaping from a state of capital impairment last year.

Eastar Jet witnessed gains in sales and operating profit in 2017, with Air Busan reporting solid sales gains but a slight dip in profits.

A file photo of South Korean passenger jets at Gimpo International Airport (Yonhap)

Air Seoul, which has been in operation for little over a year, said its sales stood at 108.4 billion won, with an operating loss of 26.2 billion won.

Related to last year's market developments, a transport ministry official said there will be even greater competition to attract travelers this year, with local LCCs moving to acquire more passenger jets and generally engaging in aggressive marketing efforts.

"Every effort will be made to reduce any fallouts from stiffer competition, with companies to be encouraged to expand flights and offer more services to customers," he said. (Yonhap)

Kim Sua  edt@koreapost.com

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