Flagship carriers such as Korean Air and Asiana Airlines are purchasing new planes and expanding long-haul routes in response to the rapid growth of budget carriers.
Asiana recently added six A380s to its fleet since it introduced the first superjumbo in May 2014. The new A380 will fly between Incheon and Frankfurt from March next year after shuttling to and from Incheon and Sydney for a while.
Korean Air has five Boeing 747-8 Intercontinental jetliners for routes to New York and Frankfurt. The carrier plans to procure 10 more by 2017.
Budget airlines are feverishly snapping up the market, accounting for 56 percent of domestic flights and more than 20 percent of international flights.
Amid fierce competitions due to a growing number of no-frills carriers, Korean Air and Asiana are trying to lure passengers with in-flight perks and comfortable seats. Korean Air is equipped with a privacy sliding doors and individual closets at first-class seats, and Asiana also offers similar sliding doors and 32-inch monitors for first-class passengers.
Meanwhiile, Korean Air has toughened its policy for managing passengers who get abusive on board.
The move was prompted by a recent PR debacle when U.S. crooner Richard Marx stepped in to restrain a violent passenger aboard a Korean Air flight from Hanoi to Seoul.
According to the new safety guidelines announced by the airline on Tuesday, violent passengers will be warned first, and flight attendants can then use a Taser to knock them out if they are not restrained.
Previously Taser guns were only to be used when the life of passengers and crew or the safety of a flight were in danger.
The airline will also ban passengers with a history of violent behavior. Im Bum-jun, who provoked Marx into action of the fateful Dec. 20 flight, was already on the radar for similar behavior but nonetheless allowed to board drunk.
Police on Tuesday said they requested an arrest warrant for Im on charges of threatening the safety of a flight and injuring crew and a passenger. The charges carry a jail sentence for up to five years.
Korean Air chief Cho Yang-ho's daughter Cho Hyun-ah, who brought disaster on the airline with her widely publicized "nut rage" rampage in 2014, went to jail for the same offense.