Asiana’s exit from Star Alliance to bolster Korean Air, Delta JV

The world’s largest airline alliance is set to lose a key member from its Asia footprint.

By David Flynn, August 20 2021
Asiana’s exit from Star Alliance to bolster Korean Air, Delta JV

Asiana Airlines will leave the global Star Alliance group within the next few years as the carrier is merged with rival Korean Air, which belongs to the SkyTeam family.

Not only will the $2.2 billion buyout turbocharge the South Korean flag-carrier and catapult it to become one of the world's largest airlines, it will also strengthen the carrier's trans-Pacific joint venture with Delta Air Lines, says Korean Air Chairman and CEO Walter Cho.

Speaking with industry publication Flight Global, Cho admitted that "the integration process will be complicated", with both airlines having not only different systems but different cultures, but "we expect the approval process to be completed by the end of this year."

"After the approval, Asiana will become a subsidiary of Korean Air."

However, as the airline's fleets and operations are merged across 2022-2024, the Asiana brand will disappear – as will its six Airbus A380 jets, which alongside Korean's ten-strong superjumbo fleet will be retired over the coming years.

"The A380s will be leaving Korean Air's fleet within five years," Cho confirmed, adding that "the Boeing 747-8I fleet will also follow suit within ten years."

Post-merger and post-COVID, Korean Air also plans to reshape its network by "streamlining redundant routes", the airline has previously said, while rejecting "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," then-president Woo Kee-hong said earlier this year.

"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."

The Asiana Club frequent flyer program will also be folded into Korean Air's Skypass rewards scheme

Read more: Korean Air to retire all Airbus A380s and Boeing 747-8s


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.