The South Korean Ministry of Land, Transport and Maritime Affairs (MLTMA) has granted domestic low-cost carriers traffic rights for 30 new routes to China.

Following a mid-March agreement, Seoul and Beijing agreed to increase the number of direct routes between the countries to 66 from the previously allowed 57 and the number of weekly frequencies to 588 from 449. The bulk of the new rights was now granted to LCCs.

"Carriers, which were granted fresh traffic rights, will likely begin flights in three to four months after obtaining necessary licenses and making other preparations," the MLTMA said.

Among the new traffic rights granted to LCCs, Jeju Air (7C, Jeju) and T'way Air (TW, Seoul Gimpo) secured rights to connect Seoul Incheon and Beijing, while Eastar Jet (ZE, Seoul Gimpo) was awarded rights to fly to Shanghai.

In total, LCCs secured rights to operate an additional 118 flights on 30 new routes to China per week. Their full-service rivals were awarded permits for an additional 21 weekly flights on eight routes.

According to the ch-aviation capacity module, full-service carriers Korean Air (KE, Seoul Incheon) and Asiana Airlines (OZ, Seoul Incheon) between them currently have a 45% market share by capacity between South Korea and China. The top two Chinese carriers on the routes, China Eastern Airlines (MU, Shanghai Hongqiao) and China Southern Airlines (CZ, Guangzhou), have a combined market share of 24.9%.

South Korean LCCs, including Jeju Air, Air Busan (BX, Busan), Jin Air (LJ, Jeju), T'way Air, and Eastar Jet have a combined market share of just 6.9% by capacity between the two countries.