KAL scores with joint venture with Delta

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KAL scores with joint venture with Delta

Korean Air’s year-long efforts to establish a joint venture with U.S. Delta Air Lines finally came to fruition on Tuesday, although the airline didn’t trumpet the news as its owning family continued to be pilloried in the local press over bad behavior.

A joint venture between Korean Air and Delta was officially established Tuesday, according to the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport. The partnership enables the two companies to share revenues and costs, flights and sales networks with antitrust immunity on their trans-Pacific operations.

It was a highly desirable deal for Korean Air as the partnership offers customers expanded travel options from both airlines’ flight networks along with shared facilities and mileage programs. The two will offer a combined network connecting more than 290 American and 80 Asian cities, which is enough to give the Korean airline competitive boost in trans-Pacific operations.

The deal was also expected to help Korea’s Incheon International Airport continue to function as a regional hub.

In a press release at the end of March, when the Transport Ministry approved the joint venture, Korea’s largest air carrier described the partnership as a “new growth engine” that will fuel the company’s growth beyond its 50th anniversary in 2019.

But Tuesday was not the best day for Korean Air to celebrate as Cho Hyun-min, daughter of Chairman Cho Yang-ho, was summoned to Seoul’s police agency to be questioned about throwing fruit juice at advertising agency employees.

Her older sister Cho Hyun-ah gained international notoriety in 2014 for ordering a taxiing plane to return to a gate to eject a member of the flight crew who served her macadamia nuts in a bag rather than on a plate.

The chairman’s wife Lee Myung-hee was also deeply embarrassed after a video emerged online allegedly showing her shoving and berating employees.

Apparently, any publicity is considered bad publicity for the Cho family these days.

According to a source from the Korean Air press team, the company was preparing to launch a big press event to announce the joint venture, but scrapped the plan.

The airline did not even issue a press release Tuesday about the joint venture. The news broke through an announcement on the Transport Ministry’s online homepage.

According to the post, the two companies will cooperate on routes that connect Asian countries with the United States including Korea, Japan, Cambodia, Hong Kong, Indonesia and Vietnam in passenger and cargo operations for at least 10 years.

Korean Air and Delta plan to first expand codesharing routes connecting Incheon with American cities like Detroit and Atlanta. The partnership enables two or more airlines to share flights for different routes. Later, they will open up customer lounges at airports and jointly adjust flight schedules on trans-Pacific routes.

BY KIM JEE-HEE [kim.jeehee@joongang.co.kr]
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