Asiana Airlines Inc., South Korea's second-largest airline, will resume offering business class services on domestic flights starting next month after a hiatus of 18 years, as it tries to improve profitability amid the Covid-19 pandemic, industry insiders said on Monday.

Asiana will begin running business class cabins on select domestic flights from November 5, according to company officials.

The full-service carrier had removed business class seats on domestic flights in November 2003, reports Yonhap News Agency.

Business-class services will be available on domestic flights running on A321 and A330 aircrafts.

They will be priced at 160,000 won for flights connecting Gimpo International Airport in Seoul and Jeju, according to officials.

Industry observers said Asiana's decision to resume business class on domestic services is to enhance its profitability and fend off challenges from low-cost carriers (LCCs) amid the pandemic.

As LCCs target consumers with cheaper tickets, Asiana opted to beef up premium cabin services to attract people in need of more comfortable, luxury offerings.

LCCs have been aggressively expanding promotions on domestic trips as lots of international flights have been suspended or reduced due to the pandemic.

According to data from the Transport Ministry, 26.1 million seats were supplied by domestic flights in the January-August period, up from 24.74 million seats in the same period a year earlier.