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Korea’s LCCs: Jeju Air commits to 737 MAX, as Jin Air escapes closure

Korea’s LCC sector is going through fleet changes at opposing ends of the spectrum.

Jeju Air, the largest Korean LCC, plans to add 737 MAX aircraft in 2019. Like most other Korean LCCs, Jeju Air favoured older, secondhand aircraft that came with lower operating costs. Jeju Air has now committed to three new 737s direct from Boeing due to a unique purchase and timing opportunity. The MAX’s additional range options and operating economics will need make up for the significantly higher acquisition cost. Jeju Air is rolling out a fresh slogan, “New Standard, New Plane” to accompany the new arrival. It will have to be more than a marketing campaign though.

There have been larger worries for Jin Air, Korea’s second largest LCC, affiliated with Korean Air. The Korean regulator MOLIT narrowly decided not to cancel Jin Air’s licence due to Jin Air’s breaking rules by having a registered foreign director, but Jin Air meanwhile withdrew an application to register additional aircraft after the process took too long. For the time being at least its punishment will be that it cannot register new aircraft.

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