South Korea’s second-largest airline, Asiana Airlines agreed to sell its cargo business and pave the way to a merger with its larger compatriot, Korean Airlines on 2rd November 2023.
The carrier has a cargo fleet of 11 B747Fs, three of which are leased, and a 767 freighter.
Asiana found itself heavily in debt after Covid-19 battered air travel, prompting its largest creditor, state-owned Korea Development Bank, to inject KRW3.6trn ($2.7bn) of public funds to keep the airline afloat.
The government then began pushing for Korean Airlines to take over Asiana. Korea Development Bank said this would give South Korea a single, competitive national airline amid industry-wide consolidation.
However, European Commission (EC) regulators feared such a merger would threaten competition on air freight and passenger services to and from Europe.
A Korean Airlines representative told that: “Following the decision of Asiana’s board of directors, Korean Airlines has submitted the remedies to the EC, and we expect this to facilitate the remaining process. While Korean Airlines continues its efforts to secure the approval from the EC, the airline will also communicate closely with the remaining regulatory bodies to finalise the approval process as quickly as possible.”
Korean Airlines hopes to get EC approval by the end of January, while similar green lights are needed from from antitrust regulators in the US and Japan.