Korean carrier Jin Air plans to offer nonstop flights between Seoul (Incheon) and Cairns over a two-month period beginning December 14.
The airline announced in late June it would add Australia to its growing network with twice weekly flights from Seoul to Cairns with Boeing 777-200ERs, after signing a memorandum of understanding with the Queensland government.
Queensland Tourism Minister Kate Jones said the state government had used its Attracting Aviation Investment Fund to get Jin Air, which is a subsidiary of Korean Air, to Cairns.
A Jin Air spokesperson said: “Under this MOU, we expect significant synergy in improving tourism industry and cultural exchanges between the countries.”
“We will do our best to provide our passenger visiting Cairns, one of the most famous leisure destinations in Australia, with reasonable flight experience based on the world-class service skills.”
Cairns Airport general manager for aeronautical Janice Antonson said Jin Air’s new Cairns service would help attract more Korean visitors to Queensland.
“We are so excited that Jin Air have chosen to bring visitors to Queensland via Cairns,” Antonson said.
Jin Air’s 777-200ERs were configured with either 393 or 355 seats.
Currently, Korean Air flies from Seoul (Incheon) to Brisbane and Sydney, having dropped its Melbourne service in 2013. Meanwhile, Asiana flies only between Sydney and the Korean capital.
Jin Air could potentially offer flight links beyond Cairns thanks to an interline agreement with the Jetstar group of airlines that was signed in April 2016 and expected to come online in the third quarter of calendar 2016.
Tourism Australia managing director John O’Sullivan said the 250,000 visitors from South Korea in the past year spent about $1.4 billion, up about 21 per cent from the prior year.
“Tourism Australia is delighted to be working in partnership with Tourism and Events Queensland to support the Jin Air services to Cairns, with jointly funded tactical marketing activity to ensure that thousands of Korean travellers take advantage of the new services,” O’Sullivan said in a statement.
“Having additional air services gives us a further boost to build on the fast growing Korea market.”