Korean Air marks 4 decades of flight

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Korean Air marks 4 decades of flight

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Hanjin Group Chairman Cho Yang-ho, fifth from right, mixes a giant bowl of bibimbap with Korean Air employees yesterday in front of Korean Air’s world headquarters building in Gonghang-dong, Seoul to mark the airline’s 40th anniversary. The company was founded on March 1, 1969. Provided by the company

Forty years ago, on March 1, 1969, Korean Air started operations with eight airplanes.

As Korea Air Lines, Korea’s state-run airline had long been in debt, and when it was privatized as Korean Air the fledgling carrier had just around 2.7 billion won ($1.7 million) to start operations and scored last in profit out of all airlines in Asia.

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“Forty years ago, we lacked in every aspect. However, with our fierce determination to connect Korea to the rest of the world, we have become Korea’s leading airline company today,” said Cho Yang-ho, chairman of the Hanjin Group, which owns Korean Air, yesterday in its world headquarters building in Gonghang-dong, western Seoul.

Over the years, the company has grown to become Korea’s flagship carrier with 10 trillion won in sales last year.

By its 50th birthday in 2019, it aims to achieve 25 trillion won in operating revenue and 2.5 trillion won in operating profit.

Since its founding, the airline has flown over 5.87 billion kilometers - equal to circling the Earth 146,000 times or making 7,700 trips to the moon and back.

It currently operates 130 aircraft to 116 destinations in 39 countries around the globe.

But to meet their goal for 2019, the company has been busy with fleet expansion. It’s ordered 10 Boeing 787s and Airbus 380s as well as 30 additional aircraft, including the B737NG and B777-300ER.

The first Korean Air double-decker A380 will enter service next year, while the Boeing 787s will be added from 2011 to 2014.

The airline also plans to add 20 million passengers every year until 2019.

President Lee Myung-bak yesterday sent a congratulatory message to the company, saying, “In the midst of a very rough worldwide financial crisis, Korean Air’s efforts to overcome the situation have been exemplary.

“I hope Korean Air grows to be one of the top 10 carriers in the world in the future and helps the revival of the country’s economy.”


By Cho Jae-eun Staff Reporter [jainnie@joongang.co.kr]
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