Korean Air has entered the final stage of completing the acquisition of its local rival Asiana Airlines and is expected to close the deal in 2023, the Korean flag carrier’s chief executive (CEO) Walter Cho said in a letter to staff.
In a New Year’s message to Korean Air employees seen by Seoul-based news agency Yonhap News, Cho said that it plans to launch the merged air carrier in 2024 after completing the takeover process in 2023, as well as route expansion and cutting aircraft maintenance costs.
“We need to analyze what destinations customers prefer after the pandemic when they resume travel, and what in-flight services they want as a wave of reopenings will further spur a surge in demand for plane travel,” the CEO was cited as saying.
The South Korean government first announced its intention to merge Korean Air and Asiana in November 2020, with Korean Air set to take over an estimated 31% stake in Asiana. But in March 2021, the merger was delayed because the deal did not receive the necessary approvals from foreign antitrust authorities.
While the takeover was further delayed, South Korea approved the takeover on February 22, 2022. The $1.6 billion deal is expected to create a new airline that will operate around 60% of international routes out of and into South Korea as well as provide regional connectivity services and serving cargo routes across the Asia-Pacific region.