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Jeju Air vows safety first as it unveils new services

Mar 29,2019
Jeju Air unveiled grand plans to diversify its service to meet the varying needs of its passengers on Thursday, but the company’s primary focus is on improving safety in the wake of recent crashes in Indonesia and Ethiopia.

“Currently, the airline business is exposed to many uncertainties,” said Jeju Air CEO Lee Seok-ju at a press event in Magok-dong, western Seoul, on Thursday.

Amid such uncertainties, the core issue the airline needs to address is growing concerns about aviation safety following the recent crashes of Boeing 737 Max planes, according to Lee.

The crashes, which occurred in Ethiopia earlier this month and Indonesia in October, claimed the lives of more than 300 people in total.

“Everyone’s attention on aviation safety has heightened following the recent aircraft accidents in Indonesia and Ethiopia,” said Lee. “For such reason, it’s crucial we prioritize upgrading our flight navigation system […] Jeju Air will go back to basics to construct a safer aviation system.”

Internally, Jeju Air plans to pre-emptively respond to possible dangers by minimizing hazardous elements based on accumulated data.

As for an outstanding order for 40 B737 Max 8 aircrafts that the airline placed last year, Lee said Jeju Air will not adopt the model until its safety is confirmed. Both the crash in Indonesia and the one in Ethiopia involved the B737 Max 8.

“We won’t adopt the aircrafts if an international consensus isn’t formed on its safety,” said Lee.

The company is expecting to receive all 40 planes by 2022.

“If the manufacturer shows a strong will and proves the model’s safety, we will proceed with the adoption of the aircrafts,” said Lee. “But considering that the adoption period starts in 2020, we still have some time. We’ll carefully observe the manufacturer’s response [to the issue].”

Following the accidents, several countries grounded the Boeing 737 Max, including the United States, Singapore and Australia. The plane has been banned from entering Korean air space.

Apart from safety, Jeju Air plans to roll out a range of services to embrace different travelers, including some typically found at full service carriers, to survive the cutthroat competition.

“In a market condition with many uncertainties, it’s crucial we offer an improved customer experience,” said Lee.

Starting this year, the low-cost carrier will provide various fare systems to meet different demands. The airline has been providing such services to domestic flight passengers, but will expand the offering to travelers taking international flights.

In July, Jeju Air will become the first budget carrier in Korea to provide a lounge at Incheon International Airport.

Taking it a step further, the company will offer aircrafts that carry larger seats for passengers flying to Singapore - the airline’s longest route. Last month, Jeju Air acquired the highly coveted right to fly to Singapore from Busan. The service is scheduled to begin in July.


BY JIN MIN-JI [jin.minji@joongang.co.kr]