Air Premia, a South Korean low-cost carrier, is to enter the air cargo market, starting international flights to Singapore, Vietnam and Los Angeles.
The carrier has signed a general sales agent (GSA) agreement with ECS Group, also GSA for CMA CGM Air Cargo, and will begin cargo operations on Monday, 13 December.
Established in July 2017 by Jeju Air’s former president, Kim Jong-chul, Air Premia obtained its air carrier licence in March 2019, but its launch, planned for 2020, was hampered by Covid-19-related travel restrictions.
On 11 August this year, Air Premia began operations with domestic flights between Seoul and Jeju, but stopped these on 30 October in preparation for international services.
Air Premia has one 787-9, with an order for two more and letters of intent for a further five. The aircraft can carry up to 17 tonnes of cargo. The airline will start Seoul-Singapore flights by year-end and is targeting Seoul-Vietnam and Seoul-LA flights in February and May.
But observers have questioned its hybrid low-cost long-haul passenger model.
Cargo may be a safer bet: demand for air freight has soared in tandem with port congestion plaguing the container shipping sector, and shippers are seeing aviation as an attractive alternative, in view of the logistical bottlenecks affecting ocean transport.
In South Korea, Air Premia will work with ECS subsidiary Globe Air Cargo to sell airfreight capacity, its South Korea CEO, Shin Hyun-ok said.
“We plan to start cargo sales for large companies, such as Samsung and LG, which export their products to Singapore. These exclude dangerous goods and items sold through e-commerce. We will support Air Premia to grow in the air cargo market.”