Hong Kong Express
Cultural interest in Korea has helped the Hong Kong-Seoul route grow 65% over the years, pushing the route from being Asia's 13th largest based on international seats to ninth largest. LCCs have amassed a 21% market share, mostly at the expense of Cathay Pacific and Korean Air even though they have increased capacity. Asiana has slightly increased market share due to its very large growth, albeit from a smaller base. HK Express in Feb-2015 will operate 18 weekly flights. Jin Air will grow beyond a daily flight, which Jeju Air did earlier in 2014. The route also sees fifth freedom operators that aggressively compete on price.
Airline expansion has helped the number of Korean visitors to Hong Kong grow 22% while Hong Kong visitors to Korea have grown a faster 40% but from a lower base. Overall tourism expansion is lower than air capacity growth, suggesting local full-service airlines are growing to increase transfer traffic while fifth freedom operators have low load factors and limited demand between Hong Kong and Seoul.
Hong Kong-Seoul market has grown 65% in three years
The Hong Kong to Seoul market is projected to grow 65% between Mar-2012 and Mar-2015.
In Mar-2012 there were about 26, 600 weekly one-way seats, and in Mar-2015 there will be about 42, 200. The market will peak over Christmas 2014 with 46, 300 weekly one-way seats. Between Mar-2014 and Mar-2015, the market is projected to grow about 30%.
Asiana and Cathay have made large capacity increases with Asiana growing 75% in Mar-2015 compared to Mar-2012. Cathay has grown about 28% capacity. Korean Air has grown about 22% based on Mar-2014 figures but these are distorted as Korean Air had an abnormally low Mar-2012. Korean Air for much of 2012 had about 8, 000 weekly one-way seats between Hong Kong and Seoul, and in early 2015 will have about 8, 500.