Jeju Air introduces business class on select medium haul routes from Busan

Jeju Air has introduced a business class product, providing a new option for Korean corporates on select medium haul routes from Busan. South Korea’s largest low cost airline is retrofitting at least two Boeing 737-800s from all economy to a new two class configuration. A business class cabin featuring 12 recliner seats in 2×2 configuration across three rows is being installed while the economy class cabin is reduced by four rows from 186 to 162 seats.


Highlights:

  • Jeju Air is introducing a business class product on a small portion of its 737-800 fleet;
  • the South Korean LCC’s new business class cabin features 12 recliner style seats in 2×2 configuration;
  • Jeju Air will offer the product on medium haul routes from South Korea’s second largest city Busan, starting with Singapore.

The new product will be available from 4-Jul-2019, initially on Jeju’s new Busan-Singapore service. The airline plans to subsequently introduce it on a small number of other medium haul routes from Busan, including Guam and Saipan.

Busan-Singapore, which has a flying time of around six hours, will be Jeju’s longest route. Singapore Airlines full service regional subsidiary SilkAir competes on the route with 162 seat two class 737-800s. SilkAir launched Busan-Singapore on 1-May and operates four weekly flights. Jeju will also initially offer four frequencies when it launches the route on 4-Jul-2019.

The airline is experimenting with a business class product on a limited number of Busan routes to gauge demand before deciding on whether to introduce it on more aircraft. So far it has committed to retrofitting only two of its 44 737-800s and has allocated a potential third aircraft for retrofit.

If the experiment is successful Jeju could opt for a two class configuration for some of its future 737 MAX-8s, which it plans to receive from 2022. The airline has 40 737 MAX-8s on order and will use the new aircraft to replace 737-800s and launch new medium haul routes to Southeast Asia.

A two class 737 MAX-8 would also be likely deployed from Seoul Incheon as well as Busan. Incheon is Jeju’s largest base and generally attracts more corporate or business traffic than Busan or other secondary Korean cities.

Jeju opened a lounge at Incheon in April which along with a business class product could help it attract corporate traffic. The airline currently does not generate significant corporate bookings and will need to work on building relationships with corporates and travel management companies.

None of South Korea’s six LCCs work closely with Korean corporates, which generally rely on Asiana Airlines and Korean Air. Jeju Air is the first of these LCCs to offer a business class product.

Jeju has several Seoul routes that you would expect to attract significant business or corporate traffic with the right product including Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh, Hong Kong and Tokyo. The airline’s business class offering is being priced significantly below full-service business class fares and, in some cases, will be even lower than full service economy fares.

The airline’s lounge at Incheon Terminal 1 is now on a pay for use model. All Jeju Air passengers can access the lounge for KRW25,000 (USD21) or at a promotional KRW14,900 (USD13) if they pre-purchase the pass on the airline’s website. Lounge passes are not being sold to passengers flying on other airlines.

Jeju Air does not yet have a lounge in Busan, which is its second largest international hub after Incheon, but could explore it as an option to support its business class offer. Jeju Air currently has 33 international routes from Incheon and 13 from Busan.