Korean Air close to ordering Airbus A350 widebodies, considering more A321neos

aappp / Shutterstock

Korean Air is reportedly close to placing a “significant” order with Airbus for its A350 widebodied long-haul aircraft. The Seoul-based carrier is planning the order as part of a fleet restructuring program that will take effect once its long-awaited merger with Asiana Airlines has been finalized.

The airline plans to buy around 20 A350 jets, according to sources close to the negotiations who spoke to Bloomberg. The agreement could be announced as soon as March 2024, although the final decision rests with the outcome of a board meeting being held by the airline’s executives on March 21, 2024.

The new aircraft could be used to replace at least some of the carrier’s aging Boeing 777-200ER and 777-300 fleets. The shorter fuselage 777-200ERs, of which the airline has eight, have an average age of 18.8 years old. The company also has four 777-300s with an average age of 24.8 years. It also employs 25 777-300ERs which average 9.8 years old.  Asiana currently operates 15 A350s, with a further 15 on order.

viper-zero / Shutterstock

The order would mark Korean Air’s first widebody purchase since 2019 and be seen to be a big success for Airbus, as Korean Air has traditionally relied upon Boeing for providing the bulk of the aircraft in its long-haul fleet.

A spokesperson for Korean Air told Bloomberg that the carrier was unable to comment on any potential order at this point. Meanwhile, an Airbus spokesperson said the planemaker does not comment on “discussions we may or may not be having with airlines”.

In addition to a potential widebody order, Korean Air is also said to be mulling over the addition of further A321neo single-aisle planes, of which it already operates 41 of the type. The carrier already placed a multi-million-dollar top-up order for 20 of the type in October 2023, taking its total outstanding order for the popular narrowbody to 50. Asiana operates 21 A321 with a further 16 on order.

Korean Air currently has 162 aircraft in its fleet with a further 183 on order. Although Airbus appears to be the front runner for the new widebody order, the airline has been considering the disposal of its small fleet of A220 twinjets of which it has 10.

According to Korean Air’s CEO Walter Cho, the airline has also been evaluating Boeing’s 777X. However, with that aircraft not due for certification until sometime in 2025, plus other production issues that have affected Boeing in recent months, Korean Air may be holding off ordering the type for some time yet. 

Chanchura Pratanrad / Shutterstock

Korean Air’s pending acquisition of Asiana, valued at $1.4 billion, is now just awaiting US regulatory approval, having already received approvals from authorities representing 13 of the 14 jurisdictions in which it is required. US approval is expected before the end of 2024. 

The enlarged Korean Air is aiming to simplify the number of aircraft types it operates to simplify operations and reduce overall costs.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Related Posts

AeroTime is on YouTube

Subscribe to the AeroTime Hub channel for exclusive video content.

Subscribe to AeroTime Hub