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South Korean airline to open new Seoul-Hanoi direct air route

By Hoang Phong   September 27, 2019 | 12:44 am PT
South Korean airline to open new Seoul-Hanoi direct air route
A early morning in downtown Hanoi. Photo by VnExpress/Giang Trinh.
Low-cost carrier Air Seoul plans to offer seven direct flights a week from Seoul to Hanoi, starting December 16.

The move aims to diversify its services on Southeast Asian routes amid lower demand for travel to Japan, the airline said Thursday in a statement.

Demand on the Japanese routes has fallen since early July when Japan implemented export restrictions of key materials to South Korea, Yonhap News Agency reported, adding that South Korean airlines have halted or reduced services on their Japanese routes while expanding flights to other countries.

Air Seoul is a subsidiary of Asiana Airlines, South Korea's second-largest major airline after Korean Air.

Currently, South Korean carriers such as Asiana Airlines, Korean Air, Jeju Air and T'Way Air are operating daily flights from Seoul to Hanoi.

Vietnam is a leading tourism choice for South Koreans, ranking third after Japan and mainland China, with the number of visitors expected to increase by 30 percent this year to four million, according to Global Destination Cities Index (GDCI), published last July by Mastercard.

South Korea is also one of Vietnam's top trade partners and investors, with electronics giant Samsung making up almost 25 percent of Vietnam's exports last year which was $245 billion.

Last year the number of South Korean visitors to Vietnam grew by 44 percent year-on-year to more than 3.4 million, accounting for more than a fourth of all foreign arrivals (15.5 million), Vietnam National Administration of Tourism (VNAT) data shows.

In the first eight months of this year, Vietnam received 2.8 million South Koreans, surging 22.5 percent from a year ago, remaining the second biggest feeder market of Vietnam's tourism after China.

A 15-day visa waiver for South Korean tourists and a rise in the number of direct flights between the two countries have made Vietnam increasingly a leading choice for South Korean tourists.

The number of international tourists to Hanoi in January-September period is estimated to reach 4.7 million, up 10 percent year-on-year.

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