Korean Air and chief competitor Asiana Airlines plan to consolidate into a single airline that will dominate the Korean market. Korean Air reached an agreement to acquire a majority in Asiana for approximately $1.6 billion. Plans to issue new shares in early 2021 will raise about 2.5 trillion won worth of capital. Some of that capital will come from Hanjin KAL, Korean Air’s parent company. Asiana’s main creditor, Korean Development Bank, will also help fund the acquisition.
According to reports from Reuters, Korean Air will initially continue operating Asiana as an independent affiliate with plans to eventually phase out the brand. Combined, the carrier would be the 15th-largest in the world and control about 60 percent of international routes in South Korea. Korean Air is currently the 28th-largest; Asiana the 42nd-largest in the world.
In a statement to Korean Times, Korean Air said the acquisition is necessary to “stabilize the Korean aviation industry.” It would likely face collapse if the carriers do not combine. The statement continued, “Considering that Korean Air’s financial status could also be endangered if the COVID-19 situation is prolonged, it is inevitable to restructure the domestic aviation market to enhance its competitiveness and minimize the injection of public funds.”
According to the airline, countries similar in size to South Korea have one major full-service carrier. Korean Air enjoyed that status prior to the launch of Asiana in 1988. Hyundai Development Co. had been in talks to acquire Asiana, but that deal fell apart in September.
Are you a Korean Air or Asiana Airlines traveler? Are you looking forward to the new combined airline? Do you think this will help the South Korean aviation industry? Tell us about it. Email us at [email protected]. Please include your full name and location.
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