In the face of growing demand from local tourists and gamblers, South Korean budget airline Jeju Air has inaugurated a new route that connects Macau to Incheon International Airport near Seoul.

According to a report from the Macau Daily Times newspaper, Jeju Air will now run a daily two-way service between South Korea’s largest airport and Macau with a flight time of just under four hours.

Eric Fong, Marketing Director for Macau International Airport, told the newspaper that South Korean tourists have recently become an important source of revenues for Macau while the nation of 50.8 million people is a popular destination for Chinese travelers, especially during the winter months.

“According to statistics, Korean passengers to Macau International Airport posted a growth of 85% from January to September this year,” Fong told the Macau Daily Times. “[The new Jeju Air] services will [begin] in time to satisfy the Christmas peak season for travel [to South Korea] in December.”

Jeju Air began operations in June of 2006 and currently has a fleet of 25 Boeing 737-800 aircraft flying to such far-flung destinations as Tokyo, Saipan, Bangkok and Hong Kong as well as the closer Jeju Island. It also services five mainland Chinese cities including Beijing and Yantai and recently announced plans to begin flights to Hainan Island utilizing Sanya Phoenix International Airport.

“Whenever Jeju Air launches a new route, we are not only creating opportunities to grow our market size and share but it is always a win-win situation for Jeju Air and for the destinations as well,” Seok-Joo Lee, Vice-President for Jeju Air told the Macau Daily Times. “This time this will happen again. Expect more tourists to come from [South] Korea and from Jeju Air.”

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