The anticipated merger between Korean Air and Asiana Airlines is almost set to mark a significant milestone in the aviation industry. Walter Cho, Chairman and CEO of Korean Air, recently expressed his confidence that the merger will be finalized by 2024. This announcement was part of a New Year’s message to his team, where he shared his optimism about the future of the industry and the changes and innovations expected in the coming year.
Asiana Airlines is a reliable Star Alliance partner opening up Asian connections to Air Canada, United and many more. But after the planned merger, it’s likely Korean Air will role Asiana into their operations and exit Star Alliance.
In his message, Cho acknowledged the challenges the industry has faced, including geopolitical risks, global supply chain disruptions, economic slowdowns, and prolonged inflation. Despite these hurdles, he celebrated the resilience of passengers who have reignited their travel plans and the industry’s ability to overcome a significant crisis.
Cho emphasized the importance of returning to the fundamentals in the face of these uncertainties. He stressed that innovation without a solid foundation is akin to a castle built on sand and urged his colleagues to consistently cultivate and refine their strengths.
Safety and service were highlighted as the pillars of Korean Air’s business. Cho underscored the airline’s commitment to safety and encouraged his colleagues to actively cultivate a strong safety culture. He also emphasized the importance of continuously rendering customer-centric services, stating that every moment passengers spend with the airline is more valuable than ever.
The merger with Asiana Airlines, announced in November 2020, has been a complex process. Korean Air signed a deal to acquire a controlling stake in Asiana, valued at $1.34 billion. The combined airline would become the world’s 10th largest by fleet.
However, the merger has faced regulatory hurdles, with approval still pending from the European Union, the United States, and Japan. Despite these challenges, Cho remains optimistic, stating, “Although it has taken much longer than expected, the integrated airline will be a tremendous growth engine for us in the long run. Korean Air will be poised to stand shoulder to shoulder with global leading airlines. The merger will optimize our network and allow us to operate to new destinations, so that we may offer customers more choices.”
In closing his message, Cho recognized the airline’s over 20,000 professionals as the core of the business and expressed confidence in Korean Air’s resilience, strength, and expertise. He concluded, “With Korean Air’s resilience, strength and expertise accumulated over many years, there is nothing we can’t overcome when we put our minds together.”