SEOUL, South Korea's transportation ministry said Tuesday that it issued business licenses to three new budget carriers, a move that can further fuel competition in the already heated no-frills flight market.

The ministry said licenses have been provided to Fly Gangwon, Air Premia and Aero K.

Currently, South Korea six low cost carriers (LCCs), including market leader Jeju Air Co. and Jin Air Co., which is owned by leading flag carrier Korean Air Lines Co.

The four others are Air Busan, Air Seoul, Eastar Jet and T'way Airlines.

The domestic LCCs have diversified their routes and expanded into new markets to counter the drop in traffic to China, which was affected by the diplomatic row caused by the deployment of a U.S. anti-missile defense system in South Korea.

Helped by the increase in the number of outbound South Koreans and more routes, budget carriers transported some 29.2 percent of passengers on international routes last year, up from 26.4 percent in 2017 and 11.5 percent in 2014.

Source: Yonhap news Agency