The clock is ticking on Asiana Airlines' A380 fleet as the South Korean carrier prepares to be taken over by long-rime rival Korean Airlines.
The two carriers will merge by 2024, resulting in a combined fleet of 16 superjumbos – the world's largest after only Emirates (as Singapore Airlines will halve its A380 fleet from 24 to just 12).
And for Korean Airlines, that's sixteen A380s too many – meaning that Asiana's A380s, along with its own, will be put out to pasture over the next few years.
"The A380s will be leaving Korean Air's fleet within five years," Korean Air CEO Walter Cho recently confirmed to industry publication FlightGlobal. This means that both Korean Air and Asiana will join the list of airlines to have ditched the A380s – among them Lufthansa, Air France, Etihad, Malaysia Airlines and Thai Airways.
Asiana arrived fairly late to the superjumbo party, taking delivery of its first A380 in May 2014 – the same year as Etihad Airways and Qatar Airways, in what was to be Airbus' last round of orders.
(ANA's three superjumbos, delivered from 2019, were inherited from an order by Japanese carrier Skymark as part of its restructure investment in the bankrupt airline.)
But while Etihad and Qatar pulled back the curtains on A380s with plenty of flair, such as Etihad's three-room Residence and Qatar's spacious and elegant inflight lounge – Asiana's treatment of the double-decker jet was more measured.
The 12 first class suites were more akin to those of Emirates and Singapore Airlines, with sliding privacy doors and a seat that transformed into a plushly-dressed fully flat bed and a 32-inch HD screen, at the time the largest of its type.
While there wasn't the scope for the 'double bed' configuration of SQ's adjoining A380 suites...
... each suite's companion seat allowed for some simpler interactions between high flyers.
The front of the upper deck included a modest lounge area where business class passengers could stretch their legs, take a snack or a drink and chat with fellow travellers.
But there were certainly no flourishes such as the inflight duty free boutique of Korean Air's A380s!
As previously reported, once Asiana is absorbed within Korean Airlines it will also leave the Star Alliance group, in a move which will not only somewhat weaken the world's largest alliance but bolster the joint venture between SkyTeam partners Korean Air and Delta Air Lines.