Think the plan is to form a JV with Asiana eventually which will help with the performance of ICN.
But looking back at the past the decision to enter the Korean market for NZ. There was a change of strategy with KE services to AKL. The 2017-18 summer they use the 747-8 daily then they decided to cut back to a 77W for 2018-19 summer at that time. Air NZ may have thought now is the best time to start with the reduction of your competitors operation. Following on from Air NZ announcement of starting 3 per week. KE got wise and decided to fend off their dominant market position and fight back hard by bringing back the 747-8 to AKL for the 2019-20 summer and restarting CHC as well so that the end result is a huge amount of new seats are on offer the NZ-Korean market is now flooded somewhat.
It will take a long time for all this new capacity to be absorbed. I certainly notice a lot of Korean tourists around Christchurch lately which I have not seen before.
For so much capacity the fares are still pretty high though, which is good for the airlines. We looked at KE to London in August, and while initially they had $1750 fares, we couldn't book then. In December, when we finally could book (and that was still 8 months in advance!), the fares were just below $3000 in Y! We instead booked CI in PE for $2600! And CI flies to LGW, which coincidentally is more convenient for us in terms of where we have to be for a wedding
, but stops in BNE. I flew them in J about 18 months ago and they were really nice as well. Apart from the noise levels, no big difference between A350 and B777 in J.
I love KE - the best seat pitch in Y, friendly, clean, and a great (included) hotel for the stopover outbound. Oh, and bonus is that you can get a 748 if you fly FRA and summer AKL
All works well and is pleasant. The only "first-world" problems are the thimbles of wine they serve, haha. That really is a joke. Two sips (literally!) and it's gone. The food last year was mediocre at best - I had much better on OZ - but by no means inedible. For the great seats in Y I am happy to take a lot of other inconveniences (such as the stopover outbound).
KE do really well AKL-ICN from what I can gather, good loads with reasonable yield.
Compare that to NZ who has K/S/L available on the majority of flights over the next 11 months.
As for KE to Europe. It's a great airline but there's some pros/cons which could differ from person to person. Such as the overnight in ICN. Some see it as and love the "free night" while others view it as an inconvenient and unnecessary stop.
I've heard nothing but praise for their seating and crew but what I hear is the meals and IFE undo any good work done.
It highlights how many variables there are when deciding on what's a good airline.
Personally for me, the stop in ICN is a nice to have for a once off change but if I had the time to stop I'd prefer to take it in NRT, HKG or SIN. For the only reason, I love these 3 Asian cities. But that depends on my reason for travel and how much time I have. If I'm going on holiday to Europe, I'd prefer to just get there. If I was to stop, i'd more than likely stop for 2-3 nights, otherwise the time between when you've checked into your hotel after a 12hr flight and the you leave again, well, it's just not enough time, I see it as lost or dead time. Completely personal and differs for everyone and every situation.
Have to agree with IFE and food, but the comfort of the seats make up for it (for me anyway).
I love that stop in ICN, because the timings are great. You arrive late afternoon/early evening, have a very very nice hotel, a huge breakfast buffet, and are being picked up at 10am again, so not an ungodly hour.
The CI stop in TPE is not so good (for FRA) - it is 17 hours both ways, and day time (arrival early am and departure close to midnight), so if you want to sleep it is 2 nights to book, and not even one staying. I got a good cheap hotel at the railway station last time, so that was easy (and luggage was checked through), but for June cheap ones were gone, and I ended up paying a fortune to stay at the airport day rooms. And if you want to explore the city, 17 hours is VERY long, especially after a 12 hour flight...
If I go to Europe and want to stop for more than one night, I prefer TYO (NRT or HND) or SIN as well - just the best cities for a brief few days. But sometimes I need to get to Europe and back pretty quickly (only there for 5 days or so) - in that case I prefer the ICN stop over a 3 hour layover (unless I have the luxury of J class - then I prefer going straight through, but that doesn't happen very often).
As you said, it is personal preference