Global Traveler: Congratulations on the 20th anniversary of Asiana Airlines. What measures has Asiana taken to celebrate this great achievement?
Jooan Kang: It has been 17 years since our first flight to Los Angeles, and to celebrate our 20 years in flight, we have decided to give back to those who helped us by sharing our success and gratitude with our customers, shareholders, suppliers, dealers, employees and society.
We will host a number of events such as inviting selected VIPs to fly our upgraded and newly introduced airplanes as our guests. We will award prizes to our customers and sales agents who have supported us the past 20 years. Asiana will also take part in events such as inviting underprivileged children to meet Asiana’s honorary ambassador, Yeon-Ah Kim, a figure skater and teen idol.
GT: How has Asiana upgraded its aircraft and services to benefit the North American premium traveler?
JK: To continue offering the best quality of service, we have been working on selecting new aircraft models as well as upgrading existing ones. In the case of the Boeing 747, the aircraft we fly to Los Angeles and New York, we just completed a massive renovation; we improved all of the seats and equipped every seat with the audio-visual-on-demand system. The spacious seating arrangement, including increased seat pitch of three to 10 inches, will offer passengers a more comfortable flight experience. We plan to invest more than $37 million in upgrading 16 airplanes flying mainly international routes.
Along with upgrading cabin facilities, we continue to upgrade our in-flight service. Asiana’s customers will enjoy using the newly designed Rosenthal tableware to indulge in high-class meals such as Korean Royal Table d’Hote and ssambab. Last October we introduced cuisines from world-renowned restaurants Do-Lim, La Cucina and Din Tai Fung in our first-class meal menus. We received the Best Airline Onboard Service and Flight Attendants award from Global Traveler, and we are well known for our innovative in-flight initiatives such as our charming service, in-flight magic shows, in-flight fashion shows and onboard chef services. We plan to introduce onboard sommeliers in the near future.
GT: Asiana took the lead regarding environmental decision-making policies within the airline community. What have some of these decisions entailed?
JK: In the European Union there is a movement that authorities include the airline industry in the Emission Trade Scheme. In order to comply with that, we are analyzing the amount of greenhouse gases our airplanes emit and estimating the cost for purchasing emission rights. Also, in cooperation with the government, we are discussing the effects of global warming and the changing culture.
Meanwhile, as an eco-friendly company, we try to retain our certificate by preventing possible contamination and administering self-audits concerning environmental issues. We also publish a sustainability report annually to promote and build awareness of environmental issues.
GT: What do you see as your biggest achievement during your service with Asiana?
JK: During my term as president of Asiana, the biggest achievement has been the first payment of dividends to our shareholders. Asiana showed a profit even though the industry was unfavorable.
Also, Asiana was given 5-star airline status by Skytrax last year. When Asiana began as a small company, our competitors were armed with more aircraft, better networks and solid reputations. We chose to focus on safety and services, and since our foundation we have learned a lot from the competition by benchmarking and improving those services. Now as a 5-star airline, we are looked up to by other airline companies trying to accomplish the same, and I am proud of that.
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