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Korean Air Lines Co., Ltd. (Korean: 대한항공; RR: Daehan Hanggong), operating as Korean Air, is the largest airline and flag carrier of South Korea based on fleet size, international destinations and international flights. The airline's global headquarters are located in Seoul, South Korea. Korean Air was founded as Korean National Airlines in 1946. After several years of service and expansion, the airline was fully privatized in 1969.
|Founded||1962; 57 years ago|
|Company slogan||Excellence in Flight|
|Parent company||Hanjin Group|
|Traded as||KRX: 003490|
|Headquarters||Gonghang-dong, Gangseo-gu, Seoul, South Korea|
|Revenue||US$ 13.24 billion (2014)|
|Operating income||US$ (25) million (2014)|
|Net income||US$ (233) million (2014)|
|Total assets||US$ 17.6 billion (2014)|
|Total equity||US$ 21.6 billion (2014)|
|Revised Romanization||Daehan Hanggong|
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. The majority of Korean Air's pilots, ground staff, and flight attendants are based in Seoul.
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 March 1, 1969, the Hanjin Transport Group took control of the airline. Long-haul freight operations were introduced on April 26, 1971, followed by passenger services to Los Angeles International Airport on April 19, 1972.
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 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. 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 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 March 1, 1984, and the airline's name changed to Korean Air from Korean Air Lines. This livery was introduced on its Fokker F28 Fellowships 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.
Further expansion and founding of Jin Air
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 which is being redeveloped. 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.
Corporate affairs and identity
Korean Air's headquarters, the Korean Air Operations Center (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.
The airline had approximately 20,540 employees as of December 2014.
Korean Air serves 123 international destinations in 50 countries on 5 continents, excluding codeshares. The airline's international hub is Incheon International Airport. 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.
- Aerolíneas Argentinas
- Air Europa
- Air France
- Air Tahiti Nui
- Alaska Airlines
- American Airlines (Oneworld)
- China Airlines
- China Eastern Airlines
- China Southern Airlines
- Czech Airlines
- Delta Air Lines (Joint Venture Partner)
- Etihad Airways
- Garuda Indonesia
- Gol Transportes Aéreos
- Hainan Airlines
- Hawaiian Airlines
- Japan Airlines
- Jin Air (Subsidiary)
- Kenya Airways
- LATAM Brasil 
- LATAM Chile
- LATAM Perú
- Malaysia Airlines
- MIAT Mongolian Airlines
- Myanmar Airways International
- Rossiya Airlines
- Shanghai Airlines
- Uzbekistan Airways
- Vietnam Airlines
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||—||—||—||25||102||127||Order with 10 options and 10 purchase rights|
Delivered from December 2017.
|Airbus A321neo||—||30||TBA||Order with 20 options.|
|Boeing 737 MAX 8||—||30||—||8||24||108||140||Order with 20 options.|
|Boeing 787-9||10||10||6||18||—||245||269||Order with 10 options.|
Order was converted from 787-8.
|Korean Air Cargo fleet|
|Korean Air Business Jet fleet|
|Bombardier Global Express XRS||2||—||13|
|Korean Air Air Ambulance fleet|
Korean Air has operated the following aircraft:
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.
On International Air Transport Association Annual General Meeting (IATA AGM) in Seoul, Chairman Walter Cho said Korean Air widebody order will imminent and considering to extra order of Airbus A220 Family including developing version, Airbus A220-500.
Korean Air offers four types of first class, three types of business (Prestige) class, and two types of economy 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 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.
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. It is located on the upper deck Business Class cabin, and is accessible only to First and Prestige class passengers.
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.
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), 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 include Korea Aerospace Industries and Korean Air Lines.
Incidents and accidents
Korean Air has a poor safety record and was once as 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.
Chaebol and nepotism
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.
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- See Malcolm Gladwell, Outliers (2008), pp. 177–223 for a discussion of this turnaround in airline safety. Gladwell notes (p. 180) that the hull-loss rate for the airline was 4.79 per million departures, a full 17 times greater than United Airlines which at the same time had a loss rate of just 0.27 per million departures.
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