ON THE CHEAP: Discount airlines making inroads into Guam

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ON THE CHEAP: Discount airlines making inroads into Guam

by: David Hurwitz | .
Stripes Guam | .
published: September 20, 2012

So, you want to get away for a quick trip but dont' want to spend a lot of money and don't want to waste time waiting for Space A? Read on and you might find what you are looking for...

For decades, high airfares were the rule on Guam, with top-tier airlines like United, Delta, Japan Airlines and others enjoying a stranglehold on the market. Their pricing philosophy seemed to be, “The sky’s the limit.” But that grip is now beginning to loosen with the introduction of service by Jin Air of Korea and the upcoming debut by Jeju Air, also of Korea, on Sept. 27.

These low-cost carriers (LCCs), which are upstarts in their own country, can save passengers some serious coin and serious time on flights from A.B. Won Pat International Airport in Agana to Incheon International Airport, near Seoul.

Jin Air operates one daily roundtrip flight between Agana and Incheon, with prices for adults starting at $590 (fuel surcharge included), a level unmatched by established carriers. The direct flights are also much quicker than those on other airlines – which often stop over at Tokyo’s Narita Airport – and leave at more convenient times.

“Our flights depart in the afternoon and arrive in Korea in the evening, which is a real advantage for passengers that can’t leave very early in the morning,” said Kiho Pak, assistant manager of Jin Air at its airport office in Agana. “And we are definitely cheaper than Korea Airlines,” he added.

“All of our seats are economy class, and we allow passengers two bags of up to 50 pounds each, while other airlines allow only one bag,’’ he said. “We are now working on plans to offer discounts on connections in Korea (to other flights Jin Air operates), but now we only have prices for the one route (between Guam and Korea).”

Jeju Air is planning a similar flight schedule after it launches operations on island. It will operate a 189-seat Boeing 737-800 for the Agana-Seoul Incheon route as well as on its proposed flights from Agana to Busan, Korea, in early 2013.

To promote the new service, Jeju Air will offer special pricing during the campaign period, selling tickets for only $299 for flights leaving Sept. 28 to 30, and for only $399 for the entire month of October.

The airline doesn’t see itself as taking passengers away from the established carriers, but rather increasing customer choice for flights between Guam and Korea. It hopes to win customers by stressing its great cabin service and reasonable price, according to Minseok Kim, Jeju Air’s station manager on Guam.

The importance of these new airlines to the people and economy of Guam is underscored by the fact that Guam Gov. Eddie Calvo and First Lady Christine Calvo will fly to Korea to participate in a ribbon-cutting ceremony in Incheon and then return home on the inaugural flight.

The route networks of both airlines offer promising destinations for the Guam traveler. Jeju Air flies from Incheon to Bangkok, Thailand; Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam; Manila, Philippines; Osaka, Nagoya and Fukuoka, Japan; and Hong Kong and Qingdao, China.

Jin Air also goes to Bangkok and Hong Kong from Incheon, as well as to Macau, China; Vientiane, Laos; Clark and Cebu, Philippines; and Sapporo, Japan. From Gimpo Airport near Seoul, it goes to Shanghai, China, and Taipei, Taiwan, with a stopover on Jeju island in the southern part of Korea.

These two airlines are the first cracks in the wall and, if their operations are successful, they are sure to inspire a host of new LCCs traveling to and from Guam. This will help the military community on island and result in better deals for those who want to take advantage of their stay here to visit other parts of Asia.
Want to go off island but cannot wait for or risk Space-A seating, Korea and all points north, south and west are not as far or as expensive to get to as you think. Join the growing trend toward flying discount airlines and find out why LCC is becoming the most popular acronym in the Asia-Pacific region.

Jin Air
* Tel: 671-642-2800
* URL: www.jinair.com

Jeju Air
* Tel: 671-777-8707
* URL: en.jejuair.net

What is an LCC?
A low-cost carrier, or LCC, also known as a budget, discount or no-frills airline, generally offers low airfares in exchange for less comfort. To make up for the decreased income, most services are provided a la carte, with extra fees charged for checked luggage, securing a specific reserved seat, ordering a meal (on domestic flights), changing a reservation, and others.

In some, but not all, cases, LCCs tend to have fewer flight attendants and are more vulnerable to overbookings and delays. They also do not rebook passengers on other carriers or provide accommodations when a flight is canceled. The old maxim of “caveat emptor,” or “Let the buyer beware,” is the rule of the day.

Other Discount Carriers at a Glance

Korea

AirAsia

* Flies from Seoul to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, for connections to AirAsia destinations throughout Asia
* Tel: 1420-69940
* URL: booking.airasia.com/Search.aspx

EastarJet
* Flies from Seoul to Osaka (Kansai International Airport); Tokyo (Narita International Airport); Bangkok, Thailand; and Kota Kinabalu, Malaysia
* Tel: 1544-0080
* URL: www.eastarjet.com/book/index.htm

T’way Airlines
* Flies from Seoul to Fukuoka, Japan; Bangkok, Thailand; and Jeju island, Korea
* Tel: 1688-8686
* URL: www.twayair.com (not in English)

Air Busan
* Flies from Busan, Korea, to Tokyo (Narita), Osaka (Kansai International) and Fukuoka, Japan; Hong Kong, Macau and Qingdao, China; Cebu, Philippines; and Taipei, Taiwan
* Tel: 1666-3060
* URL: www.airbusan.com/AB/airbusan/english/main.jsp?loc=en

Japan

AirAsia Japan

* Flies one roundtrip daily between Okinawa and Tokyo (Narita); 6,680 to 23,080 yen
* Also flies from Tokyo (Narita) to Sapporo and Fukuoka.
* Starting late October, will launch flights from Tokyo (Narita) to Seoul and Busan, Korea
* Tel: 0120-963-516 (8 a.m. – 5 p.m., Mon-Fri) 
* URL: www.airasia.com/jp/en/home.page

Jetstar Japan
* Flies two roundtrip flights daily between Okinawa and Narita International Airport near Tokyo; 6.590 to 24,990 yen
* Starting Oct. 28, will fly between Okinawa and Osaka (Kansai International Airport); 4,590 to 14,490 yen
* Also flies from Narita International to Fukuoka, Osaka, and Sapporo
* From Osaka’s Kansai International, flies to Fukuoka and Sapporo
* Offers a best-price guarantee
* Tel: 0120-9347-87 (24 hours daily) 
* URL: www.jetstar.com/au/en/home

Peach Aviation
* Starting Oct. 18, will fly two roundtrips daily between Okinawa and Osaka (Kansai International Airport); 4,790 to 19,790 yen
* Also flies from Kansai International to Kagoshima, Nagasaki, Sapporo, Hong Kong and Seoul (Incheon)
* Starting Sept. 30, will fly from Osaka to Taipei, Taiwan
* Tel: 0570-064-731
* URL: www.flypeach.com/home.aspx

Skymark Airlines
* Flies twice daily between Okinawa and Narita International Airport near Tokyo; 9,800 to 15,000 yen, and four to five roundtrips between Okinawa and Tokyo’s Haneda Airport; 12,800 to 21,800. Fares depend on date of booking
* Also flies from Haneda Airport to cities in Kyushu, Kobe and Sapporo; and from Narita International to cities in Kyushu and Hokkaido (Sapporo and Asahikawa)
* Tel: 050-3116-7370 (Japanese only, 9 a.m.-7:30 p.m. daily)
* URL: www.skymark.co.jp/en

What is an LCC?
A low-cost carrier, or LCC, also known as a budget, discount or no-frills airline, generally offers low airfares in exchange for less comfort. To make up for the decreased income, most services are provided a la carte, with extra fees charged for checked luggage, securing a specific reserved seat, ordering a meal (on domestic flights), changing a reservation, and others.
In some, but not all, cases, LCCs tend to have fewer flight attendants and are more vulnerable to overbookings and delays. They also do not rebook passengers on other carriers or provide accommodations when a flight is canceled. The old maxim of “caveat emptor,” or “Let the buyer beware,” is the rule of the day.
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