|Founded||June 1962(as Korean Air Lines)|
|Commenced operations||1 March 1969|
|Parent company||Hanjin Group|
|Traded as||KRX: 003490|
|Headquarters||Gonghang-dong, Gangseo-gu, Seoul, South Korea|
|Key people||Walter Cho (Chairman & CEO)|
|Revenue||US $11.2 billion (2020)|
|Operating income||US $228 million (2020)|
|Net income||US -$539.4 million (2020)|
|Total assets||US $23.4 billion (2020)|
|Revised Romanization||Daehan Hanggong|
Korean Air Co., Ltd. (Korean: 주식회사 대한항공; Hanja: 株式會社 大韓航空; RR: Jusikhoesa Daehan Hanggong), operating as Korean Air (Korean Air Lines before 1984), is the largest airline and flag carrier of South Korea based on fleet size, international destinations and international flights. The airline's global headquarters is located in Seoul, South Korea. The present-day Korean Air was established on March 1, 1969, after the Hanjin Group acquired government-owned Korean Air Lines, which had operated since June 1962. Even though Korean Air is owned by Hanjin Group, KAL is controlled by majority of Hanjin KAL Corporation. The owner family of Hanjin Group is still the airline's largest and controlling, shareholder; Cho Won-tae (Walter Cho), its current chairman and CEO, is the third generation of the family to lead the airline. As of 5 June 2020, Hanjin KAL holds 29.27% of Korean Air shares. Korean Air is a founding member of the airline alliance SkyTeam and SkyTeam Cargo.
Korean Air's international passenger division and related subsidiary cargo division together serve 126 cities in 44 countries, while its domestic division serves 13 destinations. It is among the top 20 airlines in the world in terms of passengers carried and is also one of the top-ranked international cargo airlines. Incheon International Airport Terminal 2 serves as Korean Air's international hub. Korean Air also maintains a satellite headquarters campus at Incheon. The majority of Korean Air's pilots, ground staff, and flight attendants are based in Seoul. The airline had approximately 20,540 employees as of December 2014.
In 1962, government of the Republic of Korea acquired Korean National Airlines, which was founded in 1946 and changed name as Korean Air Lines to become a state-owned airline. On 1 March 1969, the Hanjin Group acquired the state-owned airline and it is the beginning of Korean Air. Long-haul trans-pacific freight operations were introduced on April 26, 1971, followed by passenger services to Los Angeles International Airport on April 19, 1972.
Korean Air operated international flights to destinations such as Hong Kong, Japan, Taiwan, and Los Angeles with Boeing 707s until the introduction of the Boeing 747 in 1973. In that year, the airline introduced Boeing 747s on its trans-Pacific routes and started a European service to Paris, France using the 707 and then McDonnell Douglas DC-10. In 1975, the airline became one of the earliest Asian airlines to operate Airbus aircraft with the purchase of three Airbus A300s, which were put into immediate service on Asian routes. In 1981, Korean Air opens own cargo terminal at Los Angeles International Airport. Since South Korean aircraft were prohibited from flying in the airspace of North Korea and the Soviet Union at the time, the European routes had to be designed eastbound from South Korea, such as Seoul ~ Anchorage ~ Paris.
A blue-top, silver and redesigned livery with a new corporate "Korean Air" logo featuring a stylized Taegeuk design was introduced on March 1, 1984, and the airline's name changed to Korean Air from Korean Air Lines. This livery was introduced on its MD-80s and Boeing 747-300s. It was designed in cooperation between Korean Air and Boeing. In the 1990s, Korean Air became the first airline to use the new McDonnell Douglas MD-11 to supplement its new fleet of Boeing 747-400 aircraft; however, the MD-11 did not meet the airline's performance requirements and they were eventually converted to freighters. Some older 747 aircraft were also converted for freight service. In the 1984, Korean Air's head office was in the KAL Building on Namdaemunno, Jung-gu, Seoul.
On June 5, 2007, Korean Air said that it would create a new low-cost carrier called Jin Air in Korea to compete with Korea's KTX high-speed railway network system, which offered cheaper fares and less stringent security procedures compared to air travel. Jin Air started its scheduled passenger service from Seoul to Jeju on July 17, 2008. Korean Air announced that some of its 737s and A300s would be given to Jin Air.
By 2009, Korean Air's image had become more prestigious, differing from the airline's late-1990s image, which had been tarnished by several fatal accidents.
In mid-2010, a co-marketing deal with games company Blizzard Entertainment sent a 747-400 and a 737-900 taking to the skies wrapped in StarCraft II branding. In August 2010, Korean Air announced heavy second-quarter losses despite record-high revenue. In August 2010, Hanjin Group, the parent of Korean, opened a new cargo terminal at Navoi in Uzbekistan, which will become a cargo hub with regular Incheon-Navoi-Milan flights.
Korean Air owns five hotels: two KAL hotels on Jeju island, the Hyatt in Incheon; Waikiki Resort in Hawaii, and a hotel/office building called the Wilshire Grand Tower in Los Angeles. This building in downtown Los Angeles houses the largest InterContinental Hotel in the Americas in what is the tallest building in Los Angeles.
On 16 November 2020, the Government of the Republic of Korea officially announced that Korean Air will acquire Asiana Airlines. Korea Development Bank, a state-owned bank, will provide 800 bilion won to Hanjin Group to help finance the merger between the airlines. The Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport of the Republic of Korea will integrate subsidiaries Air Busan, Air Seoul and Jin Air to form a combined low-cost carrier which will operate focusing on regional airports in Korea.
In March 2021, KAL announced the merger with Asiana Airlines will be delay as foreign authorities has not approved the deal. Due to the delay, Asiana Airlines will be operated as subsidiary in which the airline's operations, IT and other systems will be operated by Korean Air until 2024. After the merger is approved and completed, Asiana Airlines could become member of SkyTeam. Since 9 September, Turkey has approved the antitrust deal, Taiwan, Thailand, Vietnam has approved the merger. While other essential countries, Korea, China, Japan, and the United States have not given their approval. On June 30, it is reported that the post-merger plans between two airlines have been finalized and approved by Korea Development Bank.
And for non-essential countries, on June 2021, Philippine is the first country to appoved. On September, Malaysian authority also approved on the antitrust deal, thus Malaysia officially joined Turkey on the list of countries that approved the antitrust deal between the two airlines.
Korean Air's headquarters (대한항공 빌딩) is located in Gonghang-dong, Gangseo-gu in Seoul. Korean Air also has offices at Gimpo International Airport in Seoul. Korean Air's other hubs are at Jeju International Airport, Jeju and Gimhae International Airport, Busan. The maintenance facilities are located in Gimhae International Airport.
Korean Air serves 126 international destinations in 44 countries on 5 continents, excluding codeshares. The airline's international hub is Incheon International Airport Terminal 2. The airline also flies to 13 domestic destinations. The airline operates between Incheon and 22 cities in mainland China, and along with Asiana Airlines, it is one of the two largest foreign airlines to operate into the People's Republic of China.
Korean Air has interline agreements with the following airlines:
Korean Air is also an airline partner of Skywards, the frequent-flyer program for Emirates. Skywards members can earn miles for flying Korean Air and can redeem miles for free flights.
|Airbus A220-300||10||—||—||—||140||140||Order with 10 options and 10 purchase rights |
|Airbus A321neo||—||30||TBA||Order with 20 options.|
|Airbus A380-800||10||—||12||94||301||407||To be retired by 2026.|
|Boeing 737 MAX 8||—||30||TBA||Order with 20 options.|
|Boeing 747-8I||9||—||6||48||314||368||To be retired by 2031.|
|Boeing 787-9||10||10||—||24||245||269||Order with 10 options.|
Order was converted from 787-8.
|Boeing 787-10||—||20||TBA||Deliveries planned to start from 2022|
|Korean Air Cargo fleet|
|Korean Air Business Jet fleet|
|Bombardier Global Express XRS||1||—||13|
|Airbus A300B4-2C||8||1975||1997||Airbus A330|
|Airbus A300-600R||28||1987||2012||Airbus A330|
|2||Converted into freighters and transferred to Korean Air Cargo|
|Boeing 707-320B||4||1971||1989||Boeing 747-200B|
|1||1978||None||Shot down as flight KE902|
|Boeing 707-320C||7||1971||1989||Boeing 747-200B|
|1||1987||None||Destroyed as flight KE858|
|Boeing 720||2||1969||1976||Boeing 747-200B|
|Boeing 727-100||5||1972||1985||Boeing 737 Next Generation|
|Boeing 727-200||12||1980||1996||Boeing 737 Next Generation|
|Boeing 737-800||3||2007||2021||Airbus A220-300|
|21||2000||2020||Transferred to subsidiary Jin Air.|
|Boeing 747-200B||9||1978||1998||Boeing 747-400|
|2||Converted into freighters and transferred to Korean Air Cargo|
|1||1983||None||Shot down as flight KE007|
|1||1980||Destroyed as flight KE015|
|Boeing 747-200F||7||1978||2006||Boeing 747-400F|
|1||1999||None||Crashed as flight KE8509|
|Boeing 747-200SF||2||1991||2002||Boeing 747-400F|
|Boeing 747-300||1||1984||2006||Boeing 747-400|
|1||1997||None||Crashed as flight KE801|
|Boeing 747-300M||1||1988||2001||Boeing 747-400M||Converted into freighters and transferred to Korean Air Cargo|
|Boeing 747-300SF||1||2001||2006||Boeing 747-400F|
|Boeing 747-400||17||1995||2020||Boeing 747-8I
|8||2007||Converted into freighters and transferred to Korean Air Cargo|
|1||1998||None||Crashed as flight KE8702|
|1||2001||2010||Leased to Republic of Korea Air Force for VIP transport until 2021|
|Boeing 747-400BCF||8||2007||2014||Boeing 777F|
|Boeing 747-400ERF||4||2003||2017||Boeing 777F|
|Boeing 747-400F||10||1996||2018||Boeing 777F|
|Boeing 747-400M||1||1990||2010||Boeing 777-300ER|
|Boeing 747-8I||1||2017||2021||None||To be leased to Republic of Korea Air Force for VIP transport|
|Boeing 747SP||2||1981||1998||Boeing 777-200ER|
|Boeing 777-200ER||2||1997||2020||Boeing 787-9|
|4||2005||2016||Transferred to subsidiary Jin Air.|
|Bombardier Global Express XRS||2||2011||2017||None|
|Douglas DC-8-60||6||1972||1976||Boeing 707|
|Fairchild-Hiller FH-227||2||1967||1970||NAMC YS-11A-200|
|Fokker F27-200||3||1963||1980||Fokker F27-500|
|Fokker F27-500||3||1969||1991||Fokker F28-4000|
|Fokker F27-600||1||1982||1986||Fokker F28-4000|
|Fokker F28-4000||4||1984||1993||Boeing 737 Next Generation|
|Fokker 100||12||1992||2004||Boeing 737 Next Generation|
|Gulfstream IV||1||1994||2012||Boeing BBJ1|
|Lockheed L-749A Constellation||Unknown||Unknown||Unknown||None|
|Lockheed L-1049H Super Constellation||2||1966||1967||None|
|McDonnell Douglas DC-9-32||2||1967||1972||Boeing 727|
|McDonnell Douglas DC-10-30||4||1975||1996||McDonnell Douglas MD-11|
|1||1989||None||Crashed as flight KE803|
|McDonnell Douglas DC-10-30CF||1||1978||1983||None|
|McDonnell Douglas MD-11||5||1991||1995||Airbus A330
|Converted into freighters and transferred to Korean Air Cargo|
|McDonnell Douglas MD-11F||4||1995||2005||Boeing 747-400BCF|
|1||1999||None||Crashed as flight KE6316|
|McDonnell Douglas MD-82||9||1993||2001||Boeing 737 Next Generation|
|McDonnell Douglas MD-83||7||1994||2001||Boeing 737 Next Generation|
|1||1999||None||Crashed as flight KE1533|
|NAMC YS-11A-200||6||1968||1976||Boeing 727|
|1||1969||None||Hijacked and captured by North Korea|
At the Association of Asia Pacific Airlines Assembly in 2018, Korean Air announced that it was considering a new large widebody aircraft order to replace older Airbus A330, Boeing 747-400, Boeing 777-200ER and Boeing 777-300. Types under consideration for replacement of older widebody aircraft in the fleet include the Boeing 777X and Airbus A350 XWB.
At the International Air Transport Association Annual General Meeting (IATA AGM) in Seoul, Chairman Walter Cho said Korean Air's widebody order is imminent and it is considering an extra order of Airbus A220 Family including developing version, Airbus A220-500.
Korean Air currently offers three types of first class, four types of business (Prestige) class, and standard economy class.
First Class seats include "Kosmo Suites 2.0" seats on all Boeing 747-8I and many 777-300ER models. "Kosmo Suites" seats are fitted on most of the Airbus A380-800 fleet as well as some of the Boeing 777-200ER and -300ER fleet; the differences between "Kosmo Suites 2.0" and "Kosmo Suites" is that "Kosmo Suites 2.0" has a sliding door to provide the passenger with better privacy. Some Boeing 777-300ER models are fitted with the newer "Kosmo Suites 2.0". "Kosmo Sleeper" seats are fitted on some Boeing 777-200ER aircraft. "Sleeper" first class seats are older than Kosmo First Class models and are equipped on Boeing 747-400 and later Boeing 777-300 models.
Prestige Class seats include new "Prestige Suites" that focus on the design of the Apex Suites. This business class model is equipped on all Boeing 747-8i and 787-9, as well as most 777-300ER aircraft. "Prestige Sleeper" seats are fitted on some Boeing 777-300ERs and Airbus A380s, as well as 777-200ER aircraft that feature "Kosmo Suites" first class seats; "Prestige Plus" seats are fitted on most of the Boeing 777-200ER fleet, most of the Boeing 747-400 fleet, and one Boeing 777-300; "Old Prestige Class" seats are currently being phased out in aircraft that are equipped with it (with the exception of the Boeing 737 family). "Prestige Sleeper" and "Prestige Suites" seats recline to 180 degrees, while "Prestige Plus" seats recline up to 172 degrees. "Old Prestige Class" seats recline up to 138 degrees.
On 27 December 2017, CEO of Korean Air, Won-Tae Cho said to consider to introduce Premium Economy Class. In that result, Korean Air introduced its first Premium Economy Class named "Economy Plus" on its CS300 (Airbus A220-300). It features seats that are 4 inches wider than standard economy class seats. However, on 10 June 2019, Korean Air announced it would discontinue "Economy Plus"; it will be reassigned to economy class due to discordance of service and profit loss.
Economy Class seats recline up to 121 degrees. A new type of seat called "New Economy Class" is being installed on all Boeing 777-300ER and Boeing 777-200ER aircraft with Kosmo Suites, all Boeing 777-300 aircraft, some Airbus A330-300 aircraft, some Airbus A330-200 aircraft, the Airbus A380 aircraft (factory-installed), and brand new Boeing 747-8i aircraft. The "Kosmo Suites" seats and the "Prestige Sleeper" seats were first introduced in the Boeing 777-300ERs in May 2009. Both seats could stretch to 180 degrees, and became more private than seats before.
SKYPASS is the frequent-flyer program of Korean Air. "SKYPASS" also refers to the blue card which Korean Air frequent-flyers are given. The motto of SKYPASS is "Beyond your Imagination". The program's elite levels are comparable to those of other airlines' frequent-flyer programs, requiring members to fly 30,000 miles per two-year cycle (initial entry into this level requires 50,000 miles). Qualification for the highest level is based on lifetime flight miles, requiring a customer to fly 1 million miles for Million Miler, which is the highest elite status; or 500,000 miles for Morning Calm Premium, which comes second. Both membership levels are eligible for SkyTeam Elite Plus privileges. Membership in these levels are granted for life.
Korean Air members’ club was named Morning Calm, as a reference to South Korea's tradition. Since 1886, when a book written by Percival Lowell obtained large success in the United States in narrating the history of Korea, the country started to be internationally referred as “the Land of Morning calm”, and its ruling monarchy the Joseon, became known abroad as the “Morning Dynasty”.
Following SuperM's safety video feature, Korean Air also advertised the group through a livery sported by a Boeing 777-300ER, with registration HL8010. The livery is a picture of the group's seven members with the group's name logo below it, and is situated at the aft part of the aircraft.
Korean Air is also involved in aerospace research and manufacturing. The division, known as the Korean Air Aerospace Division (KAL-ASD), has manufactured licensed versions of the MD Helicopters MD 500 and Sikorsky UH-60 Black Hawk helicopters, as well as the Northrop F-5E/F Tiger II fighter aircraft, the aft fuselage and wings for the KF-16 fighter aircraft manufactured by Korean Aerospace Industries and parts for various commercial aircraft including the Boeing 737, Boeing 747, Boeing 777 and Boeing 787 Dreamliner; and the Airbus A330 and Airbus A380. In 1991 the division designed and flew the Korean Air Chang-Gong 91 light aircraft. KAA also provides aircraft maintenance support for the United States Department of Defense in Asia and maintains a research division with focuses on launch vehicles, satellites, commercial aircraft, military aircraft, helicopters and simulation systems.
In October 2012, a development deal between Bombardier Aerospace and a government-led South Korean consortium was announced, aiming to develop a 90-seat turboprop regional airliner, targeting a 2019 launch date. The consortium would have included Korea Aerospace Industries and Korean Air. While this plan did not come to fruition, in 2019, Korean Aerospace Industries nevertheless decided to conduct a two-year study to assess the feasibility of taking the lead on building a turboprop airliner.
Korean Air previously had a poor safety record and was once one of the world's most dangerous airlines. Between 1970 and 1999, many fatal incidents occurred, during which time 16 aircraft were written off in serious incidents and accidents with the loss of 700 lives. Two Korean Air aircraft were shot down by the Soviet Union, one operating as Korean Air Lines Flight 902 and the other as Korean Air Lines Flight 007. Korean Air's deadliest incident was Flight 007 which was shot down by the Soviet Union on September 1, 1983. All 269 people on board were killed, including a sitting U.S. Congressman, Larry McDonald. The last fatal passenger accident was the Korean Air Flight 801 crash in 1997, which killed 228 people. The last crew fatalities were in the crash of Korean Air Cargo Flight 8509 in December 1999.
Korean Air has been cited as one of the examples of the South Korean "chaebol" system, wherein corporate conglomerates, established with government support, overreach diverse branches of industry. For much of the time between the foundation of Korean Air as Korean National Airlines in 1946 and the foundation of Asiana Airlines in 1988, Korean Air was the only airline operating in South Korea. The process of privatization of Korean National Airlines in 1969 was supported by Park Chung-hee, the South Korean military general-president who seized power of the country through a military coup d'état; and the monopoly of the airline was secured for two decades. After widening the Jaebeol branches, the subsidiary corporations of Korean Air include marine and overland transportation businesses, hotels and real estate among others; and the previous branches included heavy industry, passenger transportation, construction and a stockbroking business. The nature of the South Korean chaebeol system involves nepotism. A series of incidents involving Korean Air in 2000s have "revealed an ugly side of the culture within chaebeols, South Korean’s giant family-run conglomerates".
Cho Hyun-Ah, also known as "Heather Cho", is the daughter of then-chairman Cho Yang-ho. She resigned from some of her duties in late 2014 after she ordered a Korean Air jet to return to the gate to allow a flight attendant to be removed from the aircraft. The attendant had served Cho nuts in a bag instead of on a plate. As a result of further fallout, Cho Hyun-Ah was later arrested by Korean authorities for violating South Korea's aviation safety laws.
Media related to Korean Air at Wikimedia Commons