Asiana to expand fleet to 88 by 2015

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Asiana to expand fleet to 88 by 2015

Asiana Airlines, Korea’s No. 2 carrier, plans to increase its fleet to 88 aircraft by 2015 to meet growing demand for long-range routes and become a major global player, a company executive said yesterday.

“Our long-term goal is to become the 10th-biggest air carrier in the world in terms of operating margin,” said Kim Ebae, Asiana’s senior vice president for strategic planning, during a session at the Association of Asia Pacific Airlines conference in Seoul.

“To achieve this goal, we will expand our size. We now have a fleet of 71 planes. The figure will increase to 83 in 2013 and to 88 in 2015.”

Asiana posted operating profit of 148.1 billion won ($133.4 million) for the first half, down 47 percent from a year earlier due to a drop in the number of passengers, which stemmed mainly from the Japanese earthquake in March.

“The profitability of an air carrier is easily affected by external factors. Ours has also fluctuated widely,” said Kim.

“The aviation market enjoyed a boom from 2004 to 2007 and we strove to strengthen our financial structure. Those efforts helped us minimize the damage during the 2008-09 global financial crisis and bring in our best results in 2010.”

Kim said that Asiana is on a firm financial footing to prepare for another leap in the coming years by introducing new and larger aircraft.

The airline recently placed orders for six jumbo Airbus 380 planes and 30 mid-range A-350s. Yonhap

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