The South Korean Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, and Transport (MOLIT) has granted route rights to operate from Busan to Finnair (AY, Helsinki Vantaa) and said it will also consider potential applications from Korean carriers to serve the route, The Chosunilbo has reported.

Finnair will launch the route from Helsinki Vantaa on March 30, 2020, and will operate 3x weekly. The service will complement the Finnish carrier's existing daily service to Seoul Incheon.

Until 2014, Busan was served directly from Europe by Lufthansa (LH, Frankfurt Int'l). Since the German carrier pulled out from the airport, it has seen no intercontinental connectivity.

Under the long-standing Korean aviation policy, intercontinental operations are concentrated at the country's main gateway at Incheon. Finnair has been lobbying the Seoul government for some time to relax this rule.

Korean airlines are not expected to apply for the Helsinki-Busan route rights.

According to ch-aviation capacities, Busan currently sees 1,130 weekly scheduled departures and 209,754 weekly departing seats on sale, placing the airport as the fourth gateway to the country after Incheon, Jeju, and Seoul Gimpo. 40.9% of seats are on domestic routes with Japan, China, and Viet Nam being Busan's largest international markets.

There are currently 41 weekly scheduled flights between Busan and Incheon, used mostly by connecting passengers. The southern airport also sees 206 weekly departures to Gimpo.