For the Massachusetts Port Authority, $1 million could be a small price to land another major international airline.
Korean Air, South Korea’s largest carrier, committed to offer flights between Logan Airport and Seoul, with five nonstop trips a week starting next spring. The announcement is the culmination of more than a year of talks between the airline and Massport and the Greater Boston Convention & Visitors Bureau.
To help get liftoff in Boston, Korean Air will access financial incentives that Massport makes available to spur flights to new destinations in targeted overseas markets. Chief executive Tom Glynn says Massport will kick in nearly $1 million: $350,000 for marketing expenses in Korean Air’s first year here, and $630,000 worth of landing fees over two years.
Massport’s international business has boomed since it started this incentive program a decade ago. The agency has awarded at least $12 million so far. (It’s worth noting that many other airport managers — from Connecticut to Texas — often offer more generous deals.)
Other important factors behind Logan’s international growth include the steady rise of Boston’s economy and the arrival of the Boeing 787 Dreamliner. This lighter, more fuel-efficient jet enabled flights from Boston to Japan to launch in 2012; Korean Air will use a Dreamliner here as well.
Korean Air, of course, wouldn’t be coming if its executives didn’t already see strong demand in the business and leisure markets here.
Its Boston route could help the airline capitalize on its new joint venture with Delta, already a major player at Logan, and on demand from travelers in Chinese cities without direct flights to Boston.
Logan now serves more than 50 nonstop international destinations, with Terminal E as the nexus. To Massport leadership, the seven extra gates that the agency plans to add by the end of 2022 in a terminal expansion can’t come soon enough.