Korean Air is joining the growing list of airlines making retirement plans for the Airbus A380, and in this case the carrier's Boeing 747-8 fleet is also for the chop.
The South Korean flag carrier plans to put its superjumbos out to pasture within the next five years – and this applies not only to Korean Air's ten A380s but the six it will inherit from the $2.2 billion takeover of rival Asiana Airlines.
Asiana's A380 fleet will be merged with Korean Air's by 2024, but the superjumbos will be gone within two years of their hand-over.
"The A380s will be leaving Korean Air's fleet within five years," Korean Air CEO Walter Cho confirmed to industry publication FlightGlobal this week.
Korean Airlines was the seventh airline to sign up for the double-decker jet, with the first delivery in 2011.
In addition to a cosy lounge for first class passengers and a spacious business class cocktail bar, the carrier's own unique touch was a duty-free boutique at the rear of the lower deck.
Lined with high-end cosmetics, perfumes and liquor to catch the eye and prise open the wallet or purse, the showcase let passengers browse actual items rather than be restricted to leafing through a brochure.
Each of the bottles on display was fitted with a heavy-duty magnet on the bottom to keep it in place during turbulence although the alcohol was also stowed on taxi, take-off and landing.
Open for the duration of each flight and staffed by a full-time sales assistant, Korean Air accurately gambled that revenue from increased duty-free sales would more than offset the loss of two rows of economy seating which the boutique replaced.
But all that will soon be a thing of the past – and while Korean Air's more modern Boeing 747-8 Intercontinental will briefly become the SkyTeam member's long-range flagship after the A380 is stood down, "the Boeing 747-8I fleet will also follow suit within ten years" says CEO Cho.
Korean Air's future will belong to twin-engine jets such as the Boeing 777-300ER and the Boeing 787 Dreamliner, with the possibility that the Boeing 777-9 could join the family.
"I believe the Boeing 777 is one of the most successful aircraft in aviation history," Cho said. "If asked, I would say the B777-300ER is my favourite model."
"While I haven't ruled out the Boeing 777X, there are some points that still need verification. I may consider it after that, but I don't think we’ll have a large demand for new aircraft for some time as we already have a significant number of aircraft in operation or on order."