BY WAYNE CHARGUALAF
Guam Visitors Bureau is in talks with Jeju Air to make its new route from Muan International Airport in Korea to Guam permanent, according to Colleen Cabedo, marketing manager for GVB’s Korea Marketing Committee. The route is currently designed to accommodate a winter bump in travelers wishing to visit Guam for its warm weather.
“For Jeju Air this is kind of a trial to see how well sales go and see the market demand,” Cabedo said. “That’s why for now it’s a seasonal route. GVB will support Jeju Air to help them promote the route and then we’ll discuss possibly extending it into the spring season, all toward eventually making it into a regular route.”
The new route will commence Dec. 24 and run through March 7. Flights will run seven days a week, with one morning flight from Muan to Guam, which will depart at 8:30 a.m. and arrive at 1:40 p.m. — with the exception of Tuesdays, when the flight will depart at 7:30 a.m. and arrive at 12:40 p.m. There will also be a daily flight from Guam to Muan that will depart at 3:40 p.m. and arrive 7:20 p.m.
The route will be serviced by a Boeing 737-800, which has a capacity of 189 passengers. The route will provide about 14,250 additional seats during its Dec. 24 to March 7 run.
Muan is a city of more than 75,000 people located in the southwest of Korea, about one hour away from the much larger city of Gwangju, which is home to more than 1.4 million people. GVB has been working to develop the Gwangju region — among others — for the past three years, conducting annual roadshows in Gwangju with more than 100 travel agents. The new route from Muan opens up a third gateway to Guam — in addition to the established gateways of Incheon and Busan — and market access to a new geographic region. Incheon and Busan are located in the northwest and southeast of Korea, respectively.
Without access to the Muan International Airport, travelers from the region who wished to visit Guam would need to travel to Incheon or Busan first, which would require either a four-hour drive, two-hour train ride or a domestic flight.
“With a direct flight, it’s easier for travelers from the region to think of Guam as a destination of choice,” Cabedo said.
Sooyong Cha, general manager for Jeju Air on Guam, said that early signs for the route are positive.
“The number of bookings is looking good,” he said.
For the future, GVB is also looking to develop direct flights from Cheongju and Daegu, which are respectively located in the central and southeastern regions of Korea. Cheongju is currently serviced by Jeju Air via an indirect flight through Osaka, and Daegu by T’way Air via indirect flights through Narita and Osaka.
“We want to eventually do more in Cheongju and Daegu so we can have direct service for those flights,” Cabedo said.
According to a GVB report on arrivals for November 2019, arrivals are up for all markets, including Korea. Arrivals from Korea grew from more than 59,900 visitors a year ago to more than 62,000 visitors, resulting in a 9.6% increase. Korea has maintained its share of the market at 43%, almost equal to Japan’s market share of 44%. mbj