S.Korea to increase international flights starting May

FILE PHOTO: The logo of Korean Airlines is seen on a B787-9 plane at its aviation shed in Incheon, South Korea, Feb 27, 2017. (Reuters)

SEOUL: South Korea said on Wednesday it will add hundreds of international flights per week beginning in May, continuing to ease anti-coronavirus measures as its Omicron wave declines.

From next month, the government will authorise a further 100 weekly flights for such destinations as the United States, Europe, Thailand and Singapore, where quarantine exemptions and visa-free entry are possible, Minister of the Interior and Safety Jeon Hae-cheol said.

Then 100 more weekly international flights will be added in June and a further 300 in July, the transport ministry said.

Only 420 international flights a week currently serve South Korea, down from 4,714 before the pandemic.

"Demand for overseas visits is expected to increase, as countries that have passed the peak of the Omicron wave have eased quarantine policies," Jeon said in a statement.

South Korean cases have been declining for about three weeks.

The country is considering scrapping most pandemic-related curbs later this month, including an obligation to wear masks outdoors, after already dropping national vaccine mandates and mandatory quarantine for vaccinated travellers arriving from overseas.

The Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency reported 286,294 new cases for Tuesday, down from a record 621,328 in mid-March.

Shares in Korean Air rose as much as 1.7% after the announcement, versus a 0.9% drop in the wider market.

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