Korean Airlines will add two routes from its home base to the mainland this summer, brushing aside concern about the economic slowdown and swine flu. The carrier said from May 27 it would operate five weekly flights between Seoul and Xian using a 149-seat Boeing 737-800. It will increase its flights to Mudanjiang, Heilongjiang, which debuted last week, from twice a week to three times from next month. The expansion plan came after Hong Kong Dragon Airlines, a subsidiary of Cathay Pacific Airways, said last month it would suspend flights to Xian, Guilin, Dalian and Shenyang from next month to save costs. Dragonair will then be serving about 15 mainland cities from Hong Kong, including Beijing, Shanghai, Qingdao, Chengdu and Changsha. 'We see the growing tourism demand to the mainland from Korea and other international markets,' said Korean Air public relations manager James Ng. Heilongjiang is famed for its ice sculptures and snow festival in winter and is a well-known getaway during the summer. Korean Air will serve 22 mainland destinations from Seoul with 30 flights each week after adding the two destinations. The carrier also targets passengers from the United States and Europe visiting the mainland through Seoul. It can provide transit passengers at Incheon International Airport with luggage check-through services to their final destinations. 'We will further increase the number of mainland destinations despite the downturn, when other airlines are pulling out,' said Mr Ng. However, the launch date for the long-awaited Seoul-Macau route had yet to be finalised, he said. It would probably be operated by Jin Airlines, a budget airline wholly owned by Korean Air. Hong Kong's role as the gateway to the mainland might be at stake if more regional carriers added more mainland destinations, a transport analyst said. However, the proximity of the city to the mainland was the largest advantage of Hong Kong carriers, he said.