Not quite, KE left MEL in 2013
Oh I thought it was longer.. still, a long time
yeah agree still a while, and like Gemuser's post above, when I travelled on the A330, it was only half full, very comfortable flight for economy, but passenger comfort doesn't equal profitable!
There was a graph somewhere a few years back that indicated O&D traffic between Melbourne and Sth Korea was growing, there was a little dip in 2013 when KE stopped services but the market grew year on year after that organically without direct services. Other airlines like SQ, CX, CI etc… also heavily promote MEL in conjunction with the Victorian government in the past to the Korean market. There is a local Korean population in Melbourne but obviously not as large as Sydney and Brisbane, however there is/was a large student population and you can see alot of Korean businesses establishing themselves in Melbourne as of late, both local restaurants and large food chains, even Korean beauty companies. Lotte Duty Free, Amore Pacific, Nene Chicken for example.
From memory KE flights weren’t cheap either, the direct services was quite expensive compared to 1 stop options. Obviously your experiences are all anecdotal, there could have been a lot of belly cargo that also help kept the flight afloat. Just before the services were axed, KE was looking at adding a fourth weekly service to MEL but that never materialised.
We saw OZ introduce a seasonal charter which was almost full, but that was 1 weekly flight over the summer. I heard they were keen to introduce a year round service but it looks like the merger and COVID has caused those plans to not happen.