Eastar Jet (ZE, Seoul Gimpo) has regained its air operator’s certificate (AOC) from South Korea’s Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport and will resume flights in March.

The China-focused low-cost carrier suspended its flights on its domestic and international routes in March 2020 with the onset of the pandemic, and its AOC was suspended in May of that year.

In a revised list of “the current status of issuance of flight certificates for international air carriers (as of February 28, 2023)” posted on its website, the ministry places Eastar Jet as the most recent of twelve AOCs issued, mentioning “the first” AOC that was issued to it on May 1, 2009 (Korea only) and December 22, 2009 (international), which “lapsed” on May 23, 2020, before being “updated” on February 28, 2023.

Eastar Jet now plans to resume commercial flight operations in March, tallying with what it said last month, starting with the domestic trunk route connecting Seoul Gimpo and Jeju later this month, the company said in an updated statement. After initial resumption, international operations will follow in May or June.

Eastar Jet currently has three B737-800s, all leased from US-based lessor World Star Aviation, according to the ch-aviation fleets module, and is preparing to lease a fourth and a fifth. That compares with a peak fleet of 25 aircraft it operated in 2018 and 23 before the pandemic struck, the ch-aviation fleets history module shows.

It has been a long journey back for Eastar, with changes in ownership following the collapse of an acquisition deal with Jeju Air (7C, Jeju) in July 2020. It filed for receivership in January 2021. South Korean private equity fund VIG Partners eventually bought it at the start of this year.

VIG Partners has installed Cho Joong Seok, a former SVP at Asiana Airlines (OZ, Seoul Incheon), as the new chief executive of Eastar Jet. He commented on regaining the AOC: “I am delighted to see the fruits of our company-wide efforts for a new takeoff.”