The Korea Herald


Incheon Airport traffic nears pre-pandemic levels

By Kim Hae-yeon

Published : Dec. 3, 2023 - 14:02

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Travelers are seen at the Incheon Airport international boarding area, Nov. 14. (Newsis) Travelers are seen at the Incheon Airport international boarding area, Nov. 14. (Newsis)

Passenger traffic at Incheon Airport has breached 90 percent of pre-pandemic levels as of November, according to the airport on Sunday.

The number of international passengers via the airport was 5.35 million in November, equivalent to 91 percent of the monthly average of 5.88 million in 2019.

The overall passenger counts from January to November this year amounted to 50.51 million, reflecting a recovery to 78 percent of the 2019 level.

Travelers to popular destinations, including Japan, the US and the Middle East, showed a robust recovery in particular.

In the January-November period, passengers traveling on Japan routes were the highest at 12.1 million people, while those for the US and the Middle East were 5.16 million and 960,000, respectively. All three figures exceeded pre-pandemic levels.

Demand for China routes, however, has remained sluggish, with little sign of recovery anytime soon.

During the same period, the number of passengers traveling on the China routes was 4.62 million people, 37 percent of the 2019 average.

"Upon resumption of group tours from China, we anticipate the full Chinese recovery to come by 2024,” an Incheon International Airport Corp. official said. Group tours resumed in August this year.

Looking at recovery rates by region, Southeast Asia led with an 86 percent recovery rate, followed by 84 percent in Africa and Southwest Asia. Oceania recorded 81 percent, Europe was 67 percent and Northeast Asia recorded 63 percent.

While Incheon Airport's passenger recovery rate lagged behind major airports in Europe, the Americas and the Middle East, the rate stood out among its Asian peers.

Meanwhile, between January and September, major airports in Taiwan’s Taipei, Thailand’s Bangkok and Japan’s Narita showed recovery rates of 68 percent, 66 percent and 57.2 percent, respectively.