Kumho Asiana works to preserve its ties to China

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Kumho Asiana works to preserve its ties to China

The crash of Asiana Airlines Flight 214 in San Francisco has raised concerns about its effect on Kumho Asiana Group’s relationship with China.

According to Asiana Airlines, 141 of the 291 passengers aboard were Chinese, including the two girls who were killed. The company said the large number of Chinese passengers reflects the fact that it is less expensive for travelers from China heading to the United States to go through Incheon International Airport.

Kumho Asiana has focused on developing its business with China since tapping the market there in 1995 through its affiliate Kumho Bus Lines.

“The group thinks the crash is not only a matter for Asiana Airlines, so every employee is on alert,” said a Kumho Asiana Group official. “I don’t think the group will lose trust with China because of this accident, but still, we are making our best effort not to disappoint people there.”

Its core affiliate Kumho Tires operates four plants in Changchun, Nanjing and Tianjin, and has been supporting the China Touring Car Championship to attract Chinese motor sport fans.

As for Asiana Airlines, the air carrier has been operating 31 routes connecting 21 Chinese cities, tops among Korean airlines, and sponsored a “Beautiful Classroom” CSR initiative for the past few years that provides books and other education materials to schools in rural areas.

In addition, Kumho Asiana Chairman Park Sam-koo, who has been head of the Korea-China Friendship Association since 2005 and is scheduled to serve until 2016, has met with Chinese President Xi Jinping and Chinese business leaders.

The 68-year-old chairman was in Weihai, China, for the Kumho Tires Women’s Open when the accident occurred, but returned immediately after receiving the news.

“I’m deeply sorry that this accident happened,” Park told reporters yesterday after visiting Asiana Airlines’ headquarters in Osoe-dong, western Seoul. “This is something we need to overcome and we will put forward our best effort to gain the trust of all people.”

Meanwhile yesterday, Asiana Airlines President and CEO Yoon Young-doo again held a briefing, apologizing to passengers and expressing condolences to the families of the two dead girls. The CEO said the company flew 12 family members of Chinese passengers and six Chinese government officials to San Francisco late Monday.

Yoon left for the United States yesterday to meet with passengers and families there and manage on-site support activities.

BY joo kyung-don [kjoo@joongang.co.kr]
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