South Korea’s passenger traffic jumps by 13.4%

South Korea’s air passenger traffic jumped 13.4 percent in January from a year earlier to an increase in both inbound and outbound travelers; government data recently showed.

The number of people boarding flights entering and leaving the country reached 8.42 million in January, up from 7.42 million the year before, according to the data by the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, and Transport.

Among the reasons for the January gain were increased outbound travel to Japan on a weaker yen and the return of Chinese travelers to Korea following an official end late last year to the deadly Middle East Respiratory Syndrome crisis, it said.

“Decreased fuel surcharges resulting in lower travel costs and increased visits by domestic and foreign travelers to the country’s scenic Jeju Island also drove up the January air passenger number,” a ministry spokesman said.

In January, passengers on domestic routes rose 8.3 percent year-over-year to 2.21 million, and those on international routes climbed 15.4 percent to 6.21 million, the statement said.

The data also showed that air cargo, both international and domestic, rose 4.3 percent on-year to 320,000 tons in January, helped by expanded routes, low fuel costs and increased exports of handset-related products.

Looking ahead, the ministry expected air passenger numbers to rise further in the coming months due mainly to expanded routes and increasing inbound travel demand. It also forecasts an increase in air cargo backed by local and overseas demand for new smartphones and semiconductors.