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Korean Air

Korean Air
DaeHan Hanggong
IATA ICAO Callsign
Founded 1946 (as Korean National Airlines)
Commenced operations March 1, 1969
Focus cities
Frequent-flyer program SKYPASS
Airport lounge KAL Lounge
Alliance SkyTeam
Subsidiaries Jin Air
Fleet size 166
Destinations 127
Company slogan Excellence in Flight
Parent company Hanjin Group
Headquarters Gonghang-dong, Gangseo-gu, Seoul, South Korea
Key people Cho Yangho (chairman and CEO)
Cho Choonghoon (Entrepreneur/Founder)
Revenue US$ 13.24 billion (2014)[1]
Operating income US$ (25) million (2014)[1]
Net income US$ (233) million (2014)[1]
Total assets US$ 17.6 billion (2014)[1]
Total equity US$ 21.6 billion (2014)[1]
Korean name
Hangul 대한항공
Hanja 大韓航空
Revised Romanization Daehan Hanggong
McCune–Reischauer Taehan Hanggong

Korean Air Lines Co., Ltd. (Hangul대한항공; RRDaehan Hanggong) (KRX: 003490), operating as Korean Air, is the largest airline in South Korea based on fleet size, international destinations and international flights. The airline's global headquarters located in Seoul, South Korea.

Korean Air's international passenger division and related subsidiary cargo division together serve 127 cities in 44 countries, while its domestic division serves 12 destinations. It is among the top 20 airlines in the world in terms of passengers carried and is also the top-ranked international cargo airline. Incheon International Airport serves as Korean Air's international hub. Korean Air also maintains a satellite headquarters campus at Incheon.

Korean Air was originally founded as the Korean National Airlines in 1946. After several years of service and expansion, the airline was fully privatized in 1969 and commenced operations on the 1st of March 1969. The airline celebrated its 45th anniversary in 2014. The majority of Korean Air's pilots, ground staff, and flight attendants are based in Seoul.

Korean Air is the parent company of Jin Air and is a founding member of SkyTeam. The alliance has since become the second largest alliance in the world, behind Star Alliance. It was voted Asia's best airline by Business Traveler readers in 2012.[2] Korean Air is currently an official sponsor of the 2018 Winter Olympics.


  • History 1
    • Founding 1.1
    • Change to 'Korean Air' 1.2
    • Further expansion and founding of Jin Air 1.3
  • Corporate affairs and identity 2
    • Major centers 2.1
  • Destinations 3
    • Codeshare agreements 3.1
  • Fleet 4
    • Retired fleet 4.1
  • Aircraft interiors 5
    • First Class 5.1
    • Prestige Class 5.2
    • Economy Class 5.3
  • Loyalty program 6
  • Aerospace research and manufacturing 7
  • Incidents and accidents 8
  • Criticism 9
    • Chaebol and nepotism 9.1
      • "Nut-Rage" Incident 9.1.1
  • See also 10
  • References 11
  • External links 12


A Korean National Airlines Douglas DC-4 at Oakland in 1953
KAL introduction of the Boeing 747 for its international Pacific routes in 1973.


Korean Air was founded by the South Korean government in 1962 as Korean Air Lines to replace Korean National Airlines, which was founded in 1946. On 1 March 1969, the Hanjin Transport Group took control of the airline. Long-haul freight operations were introduced on 26 April 1971, followed by passenger services to Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) on 19 April 1972.[3]

International flights to Hong Kong, Taiwan and Los Angeles were flown with Boeing 707s until the introduction of the Boeing 747 in 1973. In 1973, the airline introduced Boeing 747s on its Pacific routes and started a European service to Paris, France using the 707 and then DC-10. In 1975, the airline became one of the first Asian airlines to operate Airbus aircraft with the purchase of 3 Airbus A300s, which were put into immediate service on Asian routes.[4] Since the South Korean planes were prohibited to fly over the Soviet and North Korean airspace during the era, the European routes had to be designed eastbound, such as Gimpo-Anchorage-Paris.

Change to 'Korean Air'

A blue-top, silver and redesigned livery with a new corporate "Korean Air" logo featuring a stylized Taegeuk design was introduced on 1 March 1984, and the airline's name changed to Korean Air from Korean Air Lines. This livery was introduced on its Fokker F28s. It was designed in cooperation between Korean Air and Boeing. In the 1990s, Korean Air became the first airline to use the new 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.

Korean Air Lines Boeing 747SP at EuroAirport Basel-Mulhouse-Freiburg in 1985.
Korean Air takes delivery of its first Airbus A380 at Toulouse-Blagnac Airport, France, 25 May 2011.

Further expansion and founding of Jin Air

In the 1980s, Korean Air's head office was in the KAL Building on Namdaemunno, Jung-gu, Seoul.[5]

As of 2007, Korean Air was in negotiations to open its China hub in Beijing or Shanghai by the end of 2008.

On 5 June 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 offers cheaper fares and less stringent security procedures compared to air travel, which started its scheduled passenger service from Seoul to Jeju on 17 July 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.[6]

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.[7] 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.[8]

Korean Air currently owns five hotels: two KAL hotels on Jeju island, the Hyatt in Incheon, Waikiki Resort in Hawaii and a currently redeveloping hotel/office building called the Wilshire Grand Tower. This building in downtown Los Angeles will house the largest InterContinental Hotel in the Americas in what will be the tallest building in Los Angeles.[9]

In 2013, Korean Air acquired a 44% stake in Czech Airlines.[10]

Corporate affairs and identity

Major centers

One of the airline's offices, the KAL Building in Seoul

Korean Air's main global headquarters campus, the Korean Air Operations Center (대한항공 빌딩[11]), is located in Gonghang-dong, Gangseo-gu in Seoul. Korean Air also maintains a domestic office campus at Gimpo International Airport in Seoul. Korean Air's lesser domestic hubs are based at Jeju International Airport, Jeju and Gimhae International Airport, Busan.[3] The maintenance facilities are located in Gimhae International Airport.

The airline had 16,623 employees (as of March 2007).[3]

The North America headquarters for passenger operations is located in Westlake, Los Angeles, United States, while its cargo operations for North America are on the property of Los Angeles International Airport in Westchester, Los Angeles.[12]

The European headquarters are located in the City of Westminster, London.[13] The French office is in the 1st arrondissement of Paris.[14] The German office is in Westend, Frankfurt.[15]

The Commonwealth of Independent States headquarters are located in Tverskoy District, Central Administrative Okrug, Moscow, Russia.[16]

Its Southeast Asia/Oceania headquarters are in the Ocean Tower (海洋大楼 Hǎiyáng Dàlóu) in Singapore.[17]

Its Japanese headquarters are in the Tokyo Korean Air Building (KALビル KAL Biru) in Shiba, Minato, Tokyo.[18]

Its Chinese offices are in the Hyundai Motor Tower (现代汽车大厦 Xiàndài qìchē dàshà) in Chaoyang District, Beijing.[19] Its Hong Kong sales office is in Tower 2 of the South Seas Center (南洋中心 Mandarin: Nányáng Zhōngxīn) in Kowloon.[20]


Korean Air destinations

Korean Air serves 114 international destinations in 50 countries on 6 continents, excluding codeshares. The airlines's international hub is Incheon International Airport in Incheon. The airline also flies 13 domestic destinations within South Korea. KAL 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.[21]

Korean Air, along with Air China, British Airways, Delta Air Lines, Emirates, Etihad Airways, Qantas, Qatar Airways, Singapore Airlines, South African Airways and United Airlines, is one of few airlines that fly to all six inhabited continents.[22]

Korean Air Europe headquarters in London

Codeshare agreements

With the exception of Middle East Airlines and TAROM, Korean Air has codeshare agreements with all other SkyTeam members, as well as the following airlines (as of April 2015):

Korean Air is 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. In addition, on certain routes, Korean Air's codesharing agreement with Malaysia Airlines also allows Malaysia Airlines' members to earn miles even when they are flying with Korean Air.


A Korean Air Boeing 777-300ER on short final to Chep Lap Kok Airport in 2011.
A Korean Air Airbus A330-200 taxiing at Nagasaki Airport, Japan in 2007
A Korean Air Boeing 747-400 landing at London Heathrow Airport, England in 2004.
A Korean Air Airbus A380 taking off from Hamburg Airport in 2011

Korean Air's fleet consists of the following aircraft (as of October 2015):[29][30][31]

Korean Air fleet
Aircraft In service Orders Options Passengers Notes
F C Y Total
Airbus A321neo 30 20
Delivery between 2019-2025
Airbus A330-200 8 6 6 24 188 218
Airbus A330-300 21 1 18 252 276 One aircraft leased to Czech Airlines
Airbus A380-800 10 12 94 301 407
Boeing 737-800 23 7 12 126 138
150 162
135 147
Boeing 737-900 16 8 180 188 Largest operation of 737-900
Boeing 737-900ER 6 14 12 147 159
Boeing 737 MAX 8 30 20
20 options and 30 purchase rights; Delivery between 2019-2025
Boeing 747-400 13 10 61 262 333 To be phased out by 2017, replaced by the 747-8 and the 777-300ER
12 335
12 45 308 365
Boeing 747-8I 3 7 6 48 314 368 Deliveries from 2015[32][33][34]
Boeing 777-200ER 16 8
212 248 Two aircraft transferred to Jin Air
8 28 225 261
Boeing 777-300 4 6 35 297 338
Boeing 777-300ER 17 10 8 56 227 291
Boeing 787-8 1
Boeing 787-9 10
Order converted to Boeing 787-9 from 787-8[35]
Bombardier CS300 10 10
10 purchase rights
Korean Air Cargo fleet
Boeing 747-400ERF 8
Boeing 747-400F 9
Boeing 747-8F 6 4
Boeing 777F 5 5
Total 168 142 50

Korean Air is the first Airbus A380 customer to dedicate the entire upper deck of the A380 to business class passengers (comprising 94 of Korean Air’s lie-flat Prestige Class business seating). Korean Air announced on 4 December 2009 that it would order five Boeing 747-8 Intercontinental aircraft worth $1.5 billion in list prices.[37] This is in addition to the seven Boeing 747-8F freighters Korean Air Cargo will be operating.[38] On 6 February 2012, the first Boeing 747-8F and Boeing 777F aircraft were delivered to Korean Air becoming the first airline in the world to operate both of these aircraft.[39]

Retired fleet

A Korean Air Boeing 727-200

The company has previously operated the following aircraft:

Aircraft interiors

A Boeing 777-300 being serviced at Narita International Airport

Korean Air offers four types of first class, three types of business (Prestige) class, and two types of economy class.

First Class

Prestige Class seats include "Prestige Sleeper" seats on all Boeing 777-300ERs and Airbus A380s, as well as 777-200ER aircraft that feature "Kosmo Suites" seats; "Prestige Plus" seats on most of the Boeing 777-200ER fleet, most of the Boeing 747-400 fleet, and one Boeing 777-300; and "old Prestige Class" seats. "Prestige Sleeper" seats recline to 180 degrees, while "Prestige Plus" seats recline up to 172 degrees. "Old Prestige Class" seats recline up to only 138 degrees, although these seats are being phased out except for on Boeing 737 aircraft.

Prestige Class

Prestige Class seats include "Prestige Sleeper" seats on all Boeing 777-300ERs and Airbus A380s, as well as 777-200ER aircraft that feature "Kosmo Suites" seats; "Prestige Plus" seats on most of the Boeing 777-200ER fleet, most of the Boeing 747-400 fleet, and one Boeing 777-300; and "old Prestige Class" seats. "Prestige Sleeper" seats recline to 180 degrees, while "Prestige Plus" seats recline up to 172 degrees. "Old Prestige Class" seats recline up to only 138 degrees, although these seats are being phased out except for on Boeing 737 aircraft.

Economy Class

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 and the Airbus A380 aircraft (factory-installed).

The "Kosmo Suites" seats and the "Prestige Sleeper" seats were first introduced in the Boeing 777-300ERs in May 2009.[40] Both seats could stretch to 180 degrees, and became more private than seats before.

The color 'Celadon Green', which represents the characteristics of Korea, is incorporated as the primary dominant colors to all "First Class" and "Prestige Class" seats. Dark blue and Mocha Chocolate colors are used on the economy seats.

The Korean Air Airbus A380-800 aircraft also feature an inflight bar called the Celestial Bar in partnership with Absolut Vodka, featuring a range of Absolut cocktails, along with an integrated lounge space.[41] It is located on the upper deck Business Class cabin, and is accessible only to First and Prestige class passengers.

On the lower deck of the A380, there is a Lancôme-designed[42] duty-free shop located in the rear of the cabin that is available to all passengers.

Loyalty program

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 a 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.

Aerospace research and manufacturing

Korean Air is also involved in aerospace research and manufacturing. The division, known as the Korean Air Aerospace Division (KAL-ASD), manufactures licensed versions of the MD 500 and UH-60 Black Hawk helicopters, as well as the F-5E/F Tiger II fighter aircraft,[43] 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, 747, 777, 787 and the Airbus A330 and A380.[44] 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.[45]

In October 2012, a joint development deal between Bombardier Aerospace and a government-lead South Korean consortium was revealed, to develop a 90-seater turboprop regional airliner, targeting a 2019 launch date. The consortium would include Korea Aerospace Industries and Korean Air Lines.[46]

Incidents and accidents

Korean Air had many fatal accidents between 1970 and 1999, during which time it wrote off 16 aircraft in serious incidents and accidents with the loss of 700 lives. On 1 Sep 1983, Korean Air Lines Flight 007, carrying 269 people, including a sitting U.S. Congressman, Larry McDonald, was shot down by the Soviets west of Sakhalin Island. The last fatal passenger incident was the Korean Air Flight 801 crash in 1997, which killed 228 people. The last crew fatality was Korean Air Cargo Flight 8509 in December 1999. Since the last fatality in 1999, Korean Air has not had any crash fatalities.[47]


Chaebol and nepotism

Korean Air has been cited as one of the examples of the South Korean "Chaebol" system, which is the corporate conglomerate, established with government's support, overreaching diverse branches of industry. Since Korean Air was founded as the Korean National Airlines in 1946 and privatized in 1969, the airline had been virtually the only one commercial airline company until Asiana Airlines was established in 1988. The process of privatization of Korean Airline 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 Chaebol branches, the subsidiary corporations of Korean Air include marine and overland transportation business, hotel, real estate among others and the previous branches included heavy industry, passenger transportation, construction, among stockbroking business. The nature of the South Korean Chaebol system involves nepotism. A series of incidents of Korean Air in 2000s have "revealed an ugly side of the culture within chaebols, South Korean’s giant family-run conglomerates".[48]

"Nut-Rage" Incident

Cho Hyun-Ah, also known as "Heather Cho", is the daughter of the 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 plane. 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.[49]

See also


  1. ^ a b c d e "korean air lines co ltd (003490:Korea SE)". Retrieved September 1, 2014. 
  2. ^ Tatiana Rokou (December 13, 2012). "Seoul voted "Best International Meetings Destination" for 2012". 
  3. ^ a b c "Directory: World Airlines".  
  4. ^ Korean Air Lines Co., Ltd. History.
  5. ^ "World Airline Directory." Flight International. 16 May 1981. 1444.
  6. ^ Yu, Roger (August 26, 2009). "Korean Air upgrades service, image".  
  7. ^ "Korean Air slides to second quarter loss but touts 'record high' revenue". ATW Online. August 16, 2010. Retrieved August 16, 2010. 
  8. ^ "Navoi Cargo Terminal opens in Uzbekistan; Korean Air to expand cargo network". ATW Online. August 16, 2010. Retrieved August 16, 2010. 
  9. ^ Vincent, Roger (September 23, 2014) "Hotel under construction in downtown L.A. will be an InterContinental" Los Angeles Times
  10. ^ Hovet, Jason; Hepher, Tim (April 10, 2013). "Korean Air finalises investment in loss-making Czech Airlines".  
  11. ^ "일반현황 / 기업개요". Korean Air. Retrieved September 9, 2010.  "주소: 서울 특별시 강서구 공항동 1370번지 대한항공 빌딩"
  12. ^ "Company Info / Contact Info." Korean Air. Retrieved 30 August 2011. "The Americas Headquarters Passenger 1813 Wilshire Blvd., 4th Floor Los Angeles, CA 90057 Cargo 6101 W. Imperial Hwy. Los Angeles, CA 90045"
  13. ^ "Company Info / Contact Info." Korean Air. Retrieved 30 August 2011. "Europe Headquarters 66/68 Piccadilly, London, W1J 0HJ, U.K"
  14. ^ "Aperçu / Info de Contact." Korean Air. Retrieved 30 August 2011. "Sièges en Europe 9 boulevard de la Madeleine 75001 Paris France"
  15. ^ "Überblick / Kontakt Info." Korean Air. Retrieved 30 August 2011. "Niderlassung in Deutschland An der Welle 4, 60322 Frankfurt am Main"
  16. ^ "Company Info / Contact Info." Korean Air. Retrieved 30 August 2011. "CIS Headquarters Bolshoy Gnezdnykovsky Pereulok D1/2, Moscow, Russia" Address in Russian: "Большой Гнездниковский переулок 1/2 Москва Россия"
  17. ^ "Company Info / Contact Info." Korean Air. Retrieved 30 August 2011. "Southeast Asia Headquarters 20 Raffles Place Ocean Tower #26-01 Singapore 048620" - Address in Chinese: "東南亞地域本部 莱佛士坊20号 海洋大楼26楼01/05号 新加坡048620"
  18. ^ "Company Info / Contact Info." Korean Air. Retrieved 30 August 2011. "Japan Headquarters Tokyo Korean Air Building, 3-4-15, Shiba Minato-ku Tokyo 105-0014" Address in Japanese: "日本地域本部 〒105-0014 東京都港区芝3-4-15 東京KALビル"
  19. ^ "公司资料 / 联系信息." Korean Air. Retrieved 30 August 2011. "China Headquarters Unit 1, 9th Floor, Hyundai Motor Tower No 38, Xiao Yun Road, Chao Yang District, Beijing, China" - Address in Chinese: "中国总部 北京市朝阳区霄云路38号现代汽车大厦"
  20. ^ "Company Info / Contact Info." Korean Air. Retrieved 30 August 2011. "Hong Kong Sales Office 11/F South Seas Center, Tower 2, 75 Mody Road T.S.T. East, Kowloon Hong Kong" - Address in Chinese: "香港支店 香港, 九龍, 尖沙咀東部,麼地道75號, 南洋中心第二座11樓"
  21. ^ "Why Nearly Half of Asiana Passengers Were Chinese." The Wall Street Journal. July 7, 2013. Retrieved on July 19, 2013.
  22. ^ "Korean Air". Korean Air. Retrieved April 29, 2013. 
  23. ^
  24. ^
  25. ^ "Korean Air to code-share with Aurora Airlines". AsiaOne. Retrieved December 14, 2014. 
  26. ^§ion=nationgeneral
  27. ^ "Korean Air - GOL to Commence Codeshare Partnership from mid-June 2015". 5 June 2015. Retrieved 5 June 2015. 
  28. ^ "WestJet and Korean Air launch code-share agreement". Retrieved May 14, 2012. 
  29. ^
  30. ^ "Korean Air Lines Fleet Details and History". Retrieved July 2, 2015. 
  31. ^ Korean Air official fleet page.
  32. ^ "Korean Air Celebrate the Delivery of Airline's First 747-8 Intercontinental". Boeing. Retrieved August 26, 2015. 
  33. ^ Replacing Boeing 747-400
  34. ^ "Korean Air Adds Boeing 747-8I London Operation from August 2015". Retrieved April 24, 2015. 
  35. ^ Ghim-Lay Yeo. "Korean Air converts 10 787-8s to -9s".  
  36. ^ "Boeing". Retrieved April 24, 2015. 
  37. ^ "Korean Air announced order of 5 Boeing 747-8I". Reuters. December 4, 2009. Retrieved April 29, 2013. 
  38. ^ "KAL orders five Boeing 747-8 passenger aircraft".  
  39. ^ "Boeing gets 50 new orders for 737 jets".  
  40. ^ "Korean Air introduces premium seats" (in Korean). 
  41. ^ "Absolut Celestial Bar on Korean Air A380 aircraft". Contrast Magazine. Retrieved August 8, 2011. 
  42. ^ "Lancome Opening Duty-Free Shops on Korean Air's A380 Airplanes". Retrieved August 8, 2011. 
  43. ^ "Korean Air Aerospace Division (KAA)". Retrieved April 29, 2013. 
  44. ^ Carrier moonlights in aerospace. Los Angeles Times. (18 February 2007).
  45. ^ Korean Air Aerospace Division Official Website.
  46. ^ Choi Kyong-Ae (October 8, 2012). "South Korea Consortium in Talks With Bombardier About Developing Passenger Plane".  
  47. ^ Kirk, Don (March 26, 2002). "New Standards Mean Korean Air Is Coming Off Many 'Shun' Lists".  
  48. ^ "Nepotism in a Nutshell." The Atlantic. DEC 9 2014,. the Atlantic.
  49. ^ "Ex-Korean Air Executive Arrested Over 'Nut Rage' Incident". December 30, 2014. Retrieved April 24, 2015. // Korean Air - Gol Air Codeshare. // Korean Air - Jin Air codeshare.

External links

  • Korean Air official website
  • Korean Air (Korean) (Archive)
  • Morning Calm inflight magazine
  • Korean Air Cargo
  • Korean Air Aerospace Division
  • Korean Air Channel - YouTube
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