Asiana sees a future in more long-haul flights

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Asiana sees a future in more long-haul flights

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Asiana Airlines’ CEO Kim Soo-cheon talks to the press at the carrier’s 30th anniversary celebration at a hotel in central Seoul on Tuesday. [YONHAP]

Asiana Airlines’ long term strategy will hinge on expanding its long-haul flights, said the company’s CEO Kim Soo-cheon on Tuesday.

In the past, Korea’s No. 2 air carrier generated a large portion of its sales from flights to Asian countries. Its performance was hurt by the rise of local low-cost carriers (LCCs) in the 2010s, which pushed the company into the red between 2012 and 2015.

“Our short-distance flights will be closed down or given to Air Seoul or Air Busan (Asiana Airlines’ LCC subsidiaries),” said Kim at the company’s 30th anniversary ceremony held in central Seoul on Tuesday.

“Our new focus will be long-distance flights by developing new networks and deploying large aircraft on the routes.”

Asiana plans to launch flights to Venice in May and to Barcelona in August. The former will be the first direct flight between Korea and Venice. Flights to the United States will increase starting from April.

Upgrading its large planes to new models is another core mission for the company. Last year, it deployed four Airbus 350-1000 aircrafts, which the company aims to make its main model for long-haul flights. Two more planes will start operating this year.

The overall aim is to operate 32 aircraft on long haul flights by 2022 and increase the number of routes to 19 from the current 12. If that plan goes through, 60 percent of Asiana Airlines’ passenger capacity will be on long-haul flights. The current figure is around 50 percent.

The year is the last of a three-year stabilization project the company embarked on in 2016 when it was struggling. Since 2013, the company stopped operating 17 routes or gave them to its LCC subsidiaries and sold off 400 billion won ($368,240,000) worth of assets.


BY SONG KYOUNG-SON [song.kyoungson@joongang.co.kr]

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