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27 July


Korean Air to charge extra for seats near emergency exits

The airline hopes to increase profits in the face of a growing crisis

Photo: Korean Air

/NOVOSTIVL/ Korean Air, the country's flagship carrier, plans to charge passengers for seats in the emergency exit row to help overcome the snowballing deficit from fierce competition and a slowing economy. This article appeared in The Korea Times.

The company is the only local airline that offers seats in the emergency exit row and front row economy class without a fee.

"The airline looked into measures to charge for roomier economy seats just like other local airlines and could implement the new policy as early as February," - an industry source told The Korea Times.

Exit row seats feature extra legroom and in some cases limitless legroom, they are known to frequent flyers as the most valuable real estate in coach class.

In April 2014, Jeju Air, the country's largest budget carrier, was the first to charge for emergency exit row seats, followed quickly by other low-cost carriers Jin Air, T'way Air, Eastar Jet, Air Busan and Air Seoul, charging from 5,000 won up to 30,000 won extra depending on the duration of the flight.

"The profits from selection of seats and additional services have been on a steady rise over the years," - a Jeju Air official said. In January 2018, Asiana Airlines started to charge 30,000 won to 150,000 won for the seats in a bid to improve profits.

Market watchers expect Korean Air to charge similar rates for its roomier economy seats just like Asiana Airlines. The move comes as the airline suffers a growing deficit from numerous external factors such as the sluggish economy, "Boycott Japan" movement, increased competition and rises in oil and currency exchange, which took a toll on the airline's profitability this year.

In order to slim down the losses, Korean Air has reduced and halted flights to unprofitable routes and is currently going through heavy restructuring. The airline cut down on the number of executives from 108 to 79 on Dec. 2 and is currently taking applicants for voluntary retirement until Dec. 23, the first time since 2013.

Between January and September, the airline's net loss deepened to 709,48 billion won from 57,49 billion won in the same period last year.