S. Korea's first hybrid carrier wins more investment attentions ahead of official launch

Lim Chang-won Reporter Posted : 2019-01-11 11:05 Updated : 2019-01-11 11:05
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[Courtesy of Air Premia]

SEOUL -- Air Premia, South Korea's first hybrid service carrier which will offer mid to long-haul routes, secured a new promise of investment that brought the total sum of funding on standby to more than $147 million, demonstrating a good business outlook ahead of its official launch next year.

Air Premia, which plans to launch services in September 2020, said Friday that two private equity funds promised to invest 40 billion won ($35.7 million), bringing the total amount of investment intentions to 165 billion won.

The transport ministry has tightened licensing requirements for budget carriers, reflecting concerns about growing competition in South Korea's saturated low-cost carrier market and a price war, but Air Premia is confident of winning approval in the first quarter of this year.

Air Premia CEO Kim Jong-chul headed Jeju Air, the country's top low-cost airliner based on the southern resort island of Jeju, from December 2009 to March 2012. He was credited with leading a successful turnaround in Jeju Air's profit.

In running the country's first hybrid carrier, Kim has envisaged a different business strategy to avert direct competition with budget carriers. Air Premia follows the operation model of low-cost carriers, but it offers a low-density seat configuration and a premium service.

Air Premia will introduce the latest model of wide-body aircraft with 300 seats such as Boeing 787-9 or Airbus A330neo to provide services primarily to high-demand destinations that require more than six hours of flight.

Along with free snacks and delightful in-flight entertainment options, the hybrid carrier plans to offer a 35-inch seating space economy class and a 42-inch premium economy class at more affordable prices than full-service carriers.