Jin Air to become first S. Korean LCC to offer long-haul flights

SEOUL, June 19 (Yonhap) -- South Korean budget carrier Jin Air Co. said Thursday it will start long-haul flight services, becoming the country's first low-cost airline company to do so.

Without specifying when such services will commence, the company said it will take over a B777-200 twin-engined wide-body jet later this year and add two more in 2015 for long-distance routes.

"The move is expected to provide a new growth engine for the company that currently has to compete in an increasingly tough market where carriers must fight with both domestic and foreign rivals for medium- to short-distance passengers," a company official said.

The B777-200 made by Boeing Co. can carry around 400 people in a two-class seating configuration, and with a range of 9,695 kilometers, competes with the similarly sized Airbus A330-300 jets.

Jin Air, a subsidiary of Korean Air Lines Co., currently operates B737-800 in its fleet, which can seat up to 189 and has a range of 5,765 kilometers.

Once the larger jets become operational, the airline is expected to start services to such destinations as Hawaii and Australia.

The move marks a first for a local low cost carrier (LCC) that until now concentrated on shorter routes. On the other hand, regional rivals such as AirAsia X with its fleet of A330 and A340 passenger planes have long-distance flight capabilities.

Jin Air announced earlier in the week that it will hire 100 cabin crew, a large number for a budget carrier.

Jin Air said it will hold a news conference on June 27 to outline its corporate strategy for the second half and beyond.

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