Korean Air has started deploying an A380 on its daily route between Seoul Incheon and Paris Charles de Gaulle.
Formerly served by a B777-300ER, flight KE901 departs Seoul at 1305 daily and arrives in Paris at 1820. Return flight KE902 leaves Paris at 2100 and touches down in Seoul at 1450 the following day.
The carrier’s superjumbo has a three-class configuration, with 12 suites in first class (Kosmo), 94 in business (Prestige) and 301 in economy.
While Korean Air does boast the lowest seat number for its superjumbo when compared to any other A380 operator, this does still represent an end-to-end cabin upgrade of the seating capacity seen in the B777-300ER.
Overall, weekly capacity for the route has been increased by 40 per cent.
Lower seat density on the A380 may offer better comfort for passengers, but it also means higher fuel cost per seat. Therefore, such a move might be a show of confidence by Korean Air in which it does believe that the A380 service between Seoul and Paris would be capable of maintaining a continuously high passenger load.
Prior to the change, the B777-300ER was configured with the same three-class setting, but only featured eight suites in first, 21 seats in business and 227 in economy.
According to Korean Air, the increase in capacity is a direct response to the increasing demand for the Seoul–Paris route.
A spokesman said: “The main reason [for the capacity increase] is to improve the competitiveness of Korean Air’s service and schedule on the route with the increased demand [for travel] between Korea and France.”
Due to the high passenger traffic seen at London Heathrow, Paris CDG represents an attractive alternate gateway into the UK due to its close proximity of the British capital, along with the excellent connectivity between the two destinations, either by regional flights or rail service.
In addition, the Air Passenger Duty (APD) tax makes traveling from the UK significantly more costly. As the distance between London and Seoul is approximately 5,500 miles, the APD applicable is £83 (US$137) for passengers in economy, and £166 (US$275) for any other class of travel.
Meanwhile, a single journey rail ticket on the Eurostar between London and Paris starts as low as £62 (US$102).
It is also worth mentioning that the A380 upgrade is Korean Air’s first in Europe. The flag carrier currently operates the superjumbo to Hong Kong in Asia, as well as New York, Los Angeles and Atlanta in the US.
Korean Air currently operates a fleet of eight A380, and expects to take delivery of a further two superjumbos by the end of the year.