Asiana Airlines brand to disappear after Korean Air take-over

After almost 40 years in the sky, Asiana Airlines is being fully folded into Korean Air.

By David Flynn, March 31 2021
Asiana Airlines brand to disappear after Korean Air take-over

Korean Air will axe the Asiana Airlines brand and phase out Asiana's fleet, following a $2.2 billion buyout which will turbocharge the South Korean flag-carrier and catapult it to become one of the world's largest airlines.

The take-over, announced in November 2020 and backed by the Korea Development Bank, will now formally happen in 2022, with both airlines to fully merge and integrate their operations by 2024.

"There will be one brand, Korean Air, after the integration," Korean Air President Woo Keehong confirmed in a media briefing yesterday.

A "post merger integration plan" is being developed for the integration of Korean Air, Asiana Airlines and their three offshoot low-cost carriers – Jin Air, Air Busan and Air Seoul – which will also be consolidated to "become a top-level low-cost airline not only in Korea, but also in Asia."

The merged Korean-Asiana fleet would be "simplified", with Woo saying "it will be relatively easier for Asiana Airlines to phase out their aircraft, as they have many leased aircraft with contracts that will end within 5 years."

"We will continue to simplify our fleet by retiring older aircraft over 20 years and introduce new models."

Post-merger and post-COVID, Korean Air will also reshape its network by "streamlining redundant routes", although Woo rejected "monopoly concerns" over the airline's newfound size and strength.

"Korean Air and Asiana Airlines account for less than 40% of passenger slots at Incheon International Airport," he said.

"This number is significantly lower than major global airlines’ share of slots at their respective international hub airports in Asia, Europe, and the United States."

"As the aviation market provides customers with a wide range of options, I do not think the integration will cause monopoly issues in the Korean or global market."

Woo also flagged integration of the airline's respective Skypass and Asiana Club frequent flyer programs – saying "we plan to closely analyze Asiana's mileage program and decide on the conversion rate based on Korean Air's rates", as well as how their top tiers would be aligned.

Asiana's shut-down after 36 years will also see the loss of a key member of the Star Alliance group, with Korean Air belonging to rival SkyTeam.

David

David Flynn is the Editor-in-Chief of Executive Traveller and a bit of a travel tragic with a weakness for good coffee, shopping and lychee martinis.

QF

03 Jul 2015

Total posts 16

Post pandemic days , QF code shared to Seoul ex SYD on Asiana. QF did not fly this route at all.  I wonder if Korean Air will now take this code share when and if things return to normal?

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

04 Nov 2017

Total posts 292

Depends on who does the 'best deal' for KE for a codeshare agreement.  

Keep in mind KE interlines with both QF and VA (although no FF points).

I really hope this helps Qantas open up flights to Seoul.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

14 Jun 2014

Total posts 16

Always enjoyed my QF Codeshare on Asiana flights. Good service and food. Also fun to have the QF ticket holders grouped together in our special rows.

UA

09 Mar 2016

Total posts 56

As a UA Mileage Plus member since the start of that program, I have done my fair share of travel on Asiana in all classes, long haul and between Japan and South Korea. The cabin service was always pretty good and usually very good in the front cabins, and the Korean dining options were great. Aircraft seemed old and tired in the last six years and replacements slow in going on line but my last trip was on the A350 in business and it was spiffy. I confess to some anxieties about safety after that crash at SFO, however. I haven’t flown with Korean since the 1990s it was not good at that time, but I hear much better now.


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