Eastar resumes flight operations after pandemic-driven hiatus, takeover fallout
SEOUL, March 26 (Yonhap) — Eastar Jet Co., a South Korean budget carrier, said Sunday it resumed flights starting with a domestic route, three years after it suspended operations amid the COVID-19 pandemic outbreak and a court-led restructuring.
It resumed 20 flights between Gimpo, west of Seoul, and the southernmost island of Jeju, including the first Jeju-bound ZE205 plane that departed at 6:50 a.m., the air carrier said.
Eastar Jet said it plans to hold promotional events for passengers boarding the flights for the day.
Eastar Jet will operate 10 Gimpo-Jeju flights from Sunday through Tuesday before increasing the flights to 12 a day, or 168 per week.
Eastar Jet, a China-focused carrier, had operated 23 planes covering 38 domestic and international routes before it suspended most of its flights over the pandemic in March 2020.
It obtained an air operator certificate (AOC) from the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport in February to restart the services.
It plans to increase the number of its chartered planes to 10 from the current three by the end of this year.
In 2021, Eastar Jet applied for court receivership after failing to find a strategic investor. Jeju Air Co., a leading South Korean low-cost carrier, dropped its plan to acquire the troubled airline.
In November 2021, local property developer Sung Jung Co. acquired the entire stake in Eastar, but it handed over its stake to a private equity fund in January this year.
Eastar Jet aims to achieve 146 billion won (US$112 million) in sales this year, its CEO Cho Joong-seok said earlier. The company reported 551 billion won in sales in 2019 before the pandemic broke out.