Asiana Airlines has delayed a final decision on a merger with Korean Air following a board meeting between the two carriers.
Executives from both airlines met on October 31, 2023, to discuss the agreement which includes the sale of Asiana’s cargo operations to placate the European Commission’s (EC) competition rules.
“The board meeting that is now in recess will resume in early November and make a final decision,” Asiana said in a statement.
According to Reuters, Korean Air planned to submit a corrective action plan to the EC to gain approval for the merger by the end of October 2023, but due to the failure to reach an agreement between the two carriers that deadline will now be missed.
Korean Air still need to get approval from the European Union, Japan and the United States for the airline merger.
In March 2023, the UK’s Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) gave the merger between Korean Air and Asiana its approval.
Among the conditions Korean Air had to agree to was making slots available for Virgin Atlantic to operate between London and Seoul.
News of a merger between Korean Air and Asiana first emerged in November 2020, with Korean Air set to take over an estimated 31% stake in Asiana.
The EC’s main concerns are that the merger between Korean Air and its smaller rival will “reduce competition in the provision of passenger transport services on four routes between South Korea and France, Germany, Italy and Spain” and that it will “reduce competition in the provision of cargo transport services between all of Europe and South Korea”.
According to Mlex Market Insight, a decision from the United States Department of Justice (DOJ) is still expected to take some time as it looks to further explore appropriate remedies.