Korean Air

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Korean Air
Daehan Hanggong
KoreanAir logo.svg
IATA ICAO Callsign
Founded 1946 (as Korean National Airlines)
Focus cities
Frequent-flyer program SKYPASS
Alliance SkyTeam
Subsidiaries Jin Air
Fleet size 173
Destinations 127
Company slogan Excellence in Flight
Parent company Hanjin Group
Headquarters Gonghang-dong, Gangseo-gu, Seoul, South Korea
Key people
Revenue Increase US$ 13.24 billion (2014)[1]
Operating income Increase US$ (25) million (2014)[1]
Net income Increase US$ (233) million (2014)[1]
Total assets Increase US$ 17.6 billion (2014)[1]
Total equity Increase US$ 21.6 billion (2014)[1]
Website koreanair.com
Korean name
Hangul 대한항공
Hanja 大韓航空
Revised Romanization Daehan Hanggong
McCune–Reischauer Taehan Hanggong

Korean Air Lines Co., Ltd. (Hangul대한항공; RRDaehan Hanggong) (KRX: 003490), operating as Korean Air, is the largest airline and flag carrier of South Korea based on fleet size, international destinations and international flights. The airline's global headquarters are located in Seoul, Republic of Korea. Korean Air was founded as Korean National Airlines in 1946. After several years of service and expansion, the airline was fully privatized in 1969.

Korean Air's international passenger division and related subsidiary cargo division together serve 127 cities in 44 countries, while its domestic division serves 12 destinations. It is among the top 20 airlines in the world in terms of passengers carried and is also the top-ranked international cargo airline. Incheon International Airport serves as Korean Air's international hub. Korean Air also maintains a satellite headquarters campus at Incheon. The majority of Korean Air's pilots, ground staff, and flight attendants are based in Seoul.

Korean Air is the parent company of Jin Air and is a founding member of the SkyTeam airline alliance. Skyteam has since become the largest in the world, surpassing Star Alliance. It was voted Asia's best airline by Business Traveler readers in 2012.[2]


A Korean National Airlines Douglas DC-4 at Oakland in 1953
KAL introduction of the Boeing 747 for its international Pacific routes in 1973.


Korean Air was founded by the South Korean government in 1962 as Korean Air Lines to replace Korean National Airlines, which was founded in 1946. On 1 March 1969, the Hanjin Transport Group took control of the airline. Long-haul freight operations were introduced on 26 April 1971, followed by passenger services to Los Angeles International Airport on 19 April 1972.[3]

International flights to Hong Kong, Taiwan and Los Angeles were flown with Boeing 707s until the introduction of the Boeing 747 in 1973. In 1973, the airline introduced Boeing 747s on its Pacific routes and started a European service to Paris, France using the 707 and then McDonnell Douglas DC-10. In 1975, the airline became one of the earliest Asian airlines to operate Airbus aircraft with the purchase of three Airbus A300s, which were put into immediate service on Asian routes.[4] Since South Korean aircraft were prohibited from flying in Soviet Union and North Korean airspace at the time, the European routes had to be designed eastbound, such as Gimpo-Anchorage-Paris.

Change to 'Korean Air'[edit]

A blue-top, silver and redesigned livery with a new corporate "Korean Air" logo featuring a stylized Taegeuk design was introduced on 1 March 1984, and the airline's name changed to Korean Air from Korean Air Lines. This livery was introduced on its Fokker F28 Fellowships. It was designed in cooperation between Korean Air and Boeing. In the 1990s, Korean Air became the first airline to use the new McDonnell Douglas MD-11 to supplement its new fleet of Boeing 747-400 aircraft; however, the MD-11 did not meet the airline's performance requirements and they were eventually converted to freighters. Some older 747 aircraft were also converted for freight service.

Korean Air takes delivery of its first Airbus A380 at Toulouse-Blagnac Airport, France, 25 May 2011.

Further expansion and founding of Jin Air[edit]

In the 1980s, Korean Air's head office was in the KAL Building on Namdaemunno, Jung-gu, Seoul.[5]

On 5 June 2007, Korean Air said that it would create a new low-cost carrier called Jin Air in Korea to compete with Korea's KTX high-speed railway network system, which offered cheaper fares and less stringent security procedures compared to air travel. Jin Air started its scheduled passenger service from Seoul to Jeju on 17 July 2008. Korean Air announced that some of its 737s and A300s would be given to Jin Air.

By 2009, Korean Air's image had become more prestigious, differing from the airline's late-1990s image, which had been tarnished by several fatal accidents.[6]

In mid-2010, a co-marketing deal with games company Blizzard Entertainment sent a 747-400 and a 737-900 taking to the skies wrapped in StarCraft II branding. In August 2010, Korean Air announced heavy second-quarter losses despite record high revenue.[7] In August 2010, Hanjin Group, the parent of Korean, opened a new cargo terminal at Navoi in Uzbekistan, which will become a cargo hub with regular Incheon-Navoi-Milan flights.[8]

Korean Air owns five hotels: two KAL hotels on Jeju island, the Hyatt in Incheon; Waikiki Resort in Hawaii and a hotel/office building called the Wilshire Grand Tower which is being redeveloped. This building in downtown Los Angeles will house the largest InterContinental Hotel in the Americas in what will be the tallest building in Los Angeles.[9]

In 2013, Korean Air acquired a 44% stake in Czech Airlines.[10]

Corporate affairs and identity[edit]

Major centers[edit]

One of the airline's offices, the KAL Building in Seoul

Korean Air's main global headquarters campus, the Korean Air Operations Center (대한항공 빌딩[11]), is located in Gonghang-dong, Gangseo-gu in Seoul. Korean Air also maintains a domestic office campus at Gimpo International Airport in Seoul. Korean Air's lesser domestic hubs are based at Jeju International Airport, Jeju and Gimhae International Airport, Busan.[3] The maintenance facilities are located in Gimhae International Airport.

The airline had approximately 20,540 employees as of December 2014.[12]

The North America headquarters for passenger operations is located in Westlake, Los Angeles, United States, while its cargo operations for North America are on the property of Los Angeles International Airport in Westchester.[13]

The European headquarters and French office is in the 1st arrondissement of Paris.[14] The German office is in Westend, Frankfurt.[15] The United Kingdom & Ireland office is in Westminster, London.[16]

The Commonwealth of Independent States headquarters are located in Tverskoy District, Central Administrative Okrug, Moscow, Russia.[17]

Its Southeast Asia/Oceania headquarters are in the Ocean Tower (海洋大楼 Hǎiyáng Dàlóu) in Singapore.[18]

Its Japanese headquarters are in the Tokyo Korean Air Building (KALビル, KAL Biru?) in Shiba, Tokyo.[19]

Its Chinese offices are in the Hyundai Motor Tower (现代汽车大厦 Xiàndài qìchē dàshà) in Chaoyang District, Beijing.[20] Its Hong Kong sales office is in Tower 2 of the South Seas Center (南洋中心 Mandarin: Nányáng Zhōngxīn) in Kowloon.[21]


Korean Air serves 114 international destinations in 50 countries on 6 continents, excluding codeshares. The airlines's international hub is Incheon International Airport. The airline also flies 13 domestic destinations within South Korea. KAL operates between Incheon and 22 cities in mainland China, and along with Asiana Airlines, it is one of the two largest foreign airlines to operate into the People's Republic of China.[22]

Former Korean Air office in London

Codeshare agreements[edit]

Korean Air codeshares with the following airlines:[23]

Korean Air is also an airline partner of Skywards, the frequent-flyer program for Emirates. Skywards members can earn miles for flying Korean Air and can redeem miles for free flights.


Current fleet[edit]

A Korean Air Boeing 777-300ER on short final to Chek Lap Kok Airport in 2011.
A Korean Air Airbus A330-200 taxiing at Nagasaki Airport, Japan in 2007
A Korean Air Boeing 747-400 landing at London Heathrow Airport, England in 2004.
A Korean Air Airbus A380 taking off from Hamburg Airport in 2011

As of December 2016, the Korean Air fleet consists of the following aircraft:[26][27][28]

Korean Air fleet
Aircraft In service Orders Passengers Notes
F C Y Total
Airbus A321neo 30 TBA Includes A321LR; deliveries between 2019-2025.
Airbus A330-200 8 7 6 24 188 218 7 to be delivered from 2016.
Airbus A330-300 21 4 6 18 248 272
252 276
Airbus A380-800 10 12 94 301 407
Boeing 737-800 17 7 12 126 138
135 147
Boeing 737-900 16 8 180 188
Boeing 737-900ER 6 14 12 147 159
Boeing 737 MAX 8 30 TBA 30 purchase rights; deliveries from 2017.
Boeing 747-400 5 10 61 262 333 To be phased out by late 2017[29]
12 45 308 363
12 45 308 365
12 24 368 404
Boeing 747-8I 7 3 6 48 314 368 Deliveries until December 2016.[30][31][32]
Boeing 777-200ER 14 8
212 248
8 28 225 261
Boeing 777-300 4 6 35 297 338
Boeing 777-300ER 20 10 8 42 227 277 2 additional aircraft ordered in November 2015.
8 56 227 291
Boeing 787-8 1 TBA Being converted to business jet configuration
Boeing 787-9 2[33] 8 6 18 245 269 Order converted to Boeing 787-9 from 787-8[34]
Bombardier CS300 10 TBA 10 options and 10 purchase rights, deliveries from 2017.[35]
Korean Air Cargo fleet
Boeing 747-400ERF 8 Cargo
Boeing 747-400F 8 Cargo
Boeing 747-8F 7 Cargo
Boeing 777F 11 1 Cargo
Korean Air Executive fleet
Boeing BBJ1 2 16-28 Used for business charter services.
Cabin layout can be varied as required[36]
Bombardier Global Express XRS 2 13 Used for business charter services.[36]
Eurocopter EC135 5 5 Used for air ambulance services
Gulfstream G-IV 1 8-12 Used for company executive transport services.
Gulfstream G650ER 1 12 Used for business charter services.
Sikorsky S-76+ 1 6 Used for business charter services.
Total 174 126

Retired fleet[edit]

A former Korean Air McDonnell Douglas MD-11
A former Korean Air Boeing 727-200

The company has operated the following aircraft:[citation needed]

Aircraft interiors[edit]

Korean Air Airbus A380-800 Business Class cabin

Korean Air offers four types of first class, three types of business (Prestige) class, and two types of economy class.

Prestige Class[edit]

Prestige Class seats include "Prestige Sleeper" seats on all Boeing 777-300ERs and Airbus A380s, as well as 777-200ER aircraft that feature "Kosmo Suites" seats; "Prestige Plus" seats on most of the Boeing 777-200ER fleet, most of the Boeing 747-400 fleet, and one Boeing 777-300; and "old Prestige Class" seats. "Prestige Sleeper" seats recline to 180 degrees, while "Prestige Plus" seats recline up to 172 degrees. "Old Prestige Class" seats recline up to only 138 degrees, although these seats are being phased out except for on Boeing 737 aircraft.

Economy Class[edit]

Economy Class seats recline up to 121 degrees. A new type of seat called "New Economy Class" is being installed on all Boeing 777-300ER and Boeing 777-200ER aircraft with Kosmo Suites, all Boeing 777-300 aircraft, some Airbus A330-300 aircraft, some Airbus A330-200 aircraft, the Airbus A380 aircraft (factory-installed), and brand new Boeing 747-8i aircraft.

The "Kosmo Suites" seats and the "Prestige Sleeper" seats were first introduced in the Boeing 777-300ERs in May 2009.[37] Both seats could stretch to 180 degrees, and became more private than seats before.

The Korean Air Airbus A380-800 aircraft also feature an inflight bar called the Celestial Bar in partnership with Absolut Vodka, featuring a range of Absolut cocktails, along with an integrated lounge space.[38] It is located on the upper deck Business Class cabin, and is accessible only to First and Prestige class passengers.

On the lower deck of the A380, there is a Lancôme-designed[39] duty-free shop located in the rear of the cabin that is available to all passengers.

Loyalty program[edit]

SKYPASS is the frequent-flyer program of Korean Air. "SKYPASS" also refers to the blue card which Korean Air frequent-flyers are given. The motto of SKYPASS is "Beyond your Imagination". The program's elite levels are comparable to those of other airlines' frequent-flyer programs, requiring members to fly 30,000 miles per two-year cycle (initial entry into this level requires 50,000 miles). Qualification for the highest level is based on lifetime flight miles, requiring a customer to fly 1 million miles for Million Miler, which is the highest elite status; or 500,000 miles for Morning Calm Premium, which comes second. Both membership levels are eligible for SkyTeam Elite Plus privileges. Membership in these levels are granted for life.

Aerospace research and manufacturing[edit]

Korean Air is also involved in aerospace research and manufacturing. The division, known as the Korean Air Aerospace Division (KAL-ASD), manufactures licensed versions of the MD Helicopters MD 500 and Sikorsky UH-60 Black Hawk helicopters, as well as the Northrop F-5E/F Tiger II fighter aircraft,[40] the aft fuselage and wings for the KF-16 fighter aircraft manufactured by Korean Aerospace Industries and parts for various commercial aircraft including the Boeing 737, Boeing 747, Boeing 777 and Boeing 787 Dreamliner; and the Airbus A330 and Airbus A380.[41] In 1991 the division designed and flew the Korean Air Chang-Gong 91 light aircraft. KAA also provides aircraft maintenance support for the United States Department of Defense in Asia and maintains a research division with focuses on launch vehicles, satellites, commercial aircraft, military aircraft, helicopters and simulation systems.[42]

In October 2012, a joint development deal between Bombardier Aerospace and a government-led South Korean consortium was revealed, to develop a 90-seat turboprop regional airliner, targeting a 2019 launch date. The consortium would include Korea Aerospace Industries and Korean Air Lines.[43]

Incidents and accidents[edit]

Korean Air had many fatal accidents between 1970 and 1999, during which time 16 aircraft were written off in serious incidents and accidents with the loss of 700 lives. Two Korean Air aircraft were shot down by the Soviet Union, including Korean Air Lines Flight 007 on 1 September 1983 that was carrying 269 people, including a sitting U.S. Congressman, Larry McDonald. The last fatal passenger incident was the Korean Air Flight 801 crash in 1997, which killed 228 people. The last crew fatality was in the crash of Korean Air Cargo Flight 8509 in December 1999.[44]


Chaebol and nepotism[edit]

Korean Air has been cited as one of the examples of the South Korean "chaebol" system, wherein corporate conglomerates, established with government support, overreach diverse branches of industry. For much of the time between the foundation of Korean Air as Korean National Airlines in 1946 and the foundation of Asiana Airlines in 1988, Korean Air was the only airline operating in South Korea. The process of privatization of Korean National Airlines in 1969 was supported by Park Chung-hee, the South Korean military general-president who seized power of the country through a military coup d'état; and the monopoly of the airline was secured for two decades. After widening the Jaebeol branches, the subsidiary corporations of Korean Air include marine and overland transportation businesses, hotels and real estate among others; and the previous branches included heavy industry, passenger transportation, construction and a stockbroking business. The nature of the South Korean chaebeol system involves nepotism. A series of incidents involving Korean Air in 2000s have "revealed an ugly side of the culture within chaebeols, South Korean’s giant family-run conglomerates".[45]

"Nut rage" incident[edit]

Main article: Nut rage incident

Cho Hyun-Ah, also known as "Heather Cho", is the daughter of the chairman Cho Yang-ho. She resigned from some of her duties in late 2014 after she ordered a Korean Air jet to return to the gate to allow a flight attendant to be removed from the aircraft. The attendant had served Cho nuts in a bag instead of on a plate. As a result of further fallout, Cho Hyun-Ah was later arrested by Korean authorities for violating South Korea's aviation safety laws.[46]

See also[edit]


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  2. ^ Tatiana Rokou (December 13, 2012). "Seoul voted "Best International Meetings Destination" for 2012". 
  3. ^ a b "Directory: World Airlines". Flight International. April 3, 2007. p. 102. 
  4. ^ "Korean Air Lines Co., Ltd. History". International Directory of Company Histories, Vol. 27. St. James Press, 1999.
  5. ^ "World Airline Directory." Flight International. 16 May 1981. 1444.
  6. ^ Yu, Roger (August 26, 2009). "Korean Air upgrades service, image". USA Today. Retrieved September 16, 2009. 
  7. ^ "Korean Air slides to second quarter loss but touts 'record high' revenue". ATW Online. August 16, 2010. Retrieved August 16, 2010. 
  8. ^ "Navoi Cargo Terminal opens in Uzbekistan; Korean Air to expand cargo network". ATW Online. August 16, 2010. Retrieved August 16, 2010. 
  9. ^ Vincent, Roger (September 23, 2014) "Hotel under construction in downtown L.A. will be an InterContinental" Los Angeles Times
  10. ^ Hovet, Jason; Hepher, Tim (April 10, 2013). "Korean Air finalises investment in loss-making Czech Airlines". Reuters. Retrieved August 4, 2015. 
  11. ^ "일반현황 / 기업개요". Korean Air. Retrieved September 9, 2010.  "주소: 서울 특별시 강서구 공항동 1370번지 대한항공 빌딩"
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  13. ^ "Company Info / Contact Info." Korean Air. Retrieved 30 August 2011. "The Americas Headquarters Passenger 1813 Wilshire Blvd., 4th Floor Los Angeles, CA 90057 Cargo 6101 W. Imperial Hwy. Los Angeles, CA 90045"
  14. ^ "Aperçu / Info de Contact." Korean Air. Retrieved 30 August 2011. "Sièges en Europe 9 boulevard de la Madeleine 75001 Paris France"
  15. ^ "Überblick / Kontakt Info." Korean Air. Retrieved 30 August 2011. "Niderlassung in Deutschland An der Welle 4, 60322 Frankfurt am Main"
  16. ^ "Customer Support - Korean Air". www.koreanair.com. Retrieved 2017-03-28. 
  17. ^ "Company Info / Contact Info." Korean Air. Retrieved 30 August 2011. "CIS Headquarters Bolshoy Gnezdnykovsky Pereulok D1/2, Moscow, Russia" Address in Russian: "Большой Гнездниковский переулок 1/2 Москва Россия"
  18. ^ "Company Info / Contact Info." Korean Air. Retrieved 30 August 2011. "Southeast Asia Headquarters 20 Raffles Place Ocean Tower #26-01 Singapore 048620" - Address in Chinese: "東南亞地域本部 莱佛士坊20号 海洋大楼26楼01/05号 新加坡048620"
  19. ^ "Company Info / Contact Info." Korean Air. Retrieved 30 August 2011. "Japan Headquarters Tokyo Korean Air Building, 3-4-15, Shiba Minato-ku Tokyo 105-0014" Address in Japanese: "日本地域本部 〒105-0014 東京都港区芝3-4-15 東京KALビル"
  20. ^ "公司资料 / 联系信息." Korean Air. Retrieved 30 August 2011. "China Headquarters Unit 1, 9th Floor, Hyundai Motor Tower No 38, Xiao Yun Road, Chao Yang District, Beijing, China" - Address in Chinese: "中国总部 北京市朝阳区霄云路38号现代汽车大厦"
  21. ^ "Company Info / Contact Info." Korean Air. Retrieved 30 August 2011. "Hong Kong Sales Office 11/F South Seas Center, Tower 2, 75 Mody Road T.S.T. East, Kowloon Hong Kong" - Address in Chinese: "香港支店 香港, 九龍, 尖沙咀東部,麼地道75號, 南洋中心第二座11樓"
  22. ^ "Why Nearly Half of Asiana Passengers Were Chinese." The Wall Street Journal. July 7, 2013. Retrieved on July 19, 2013.
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  31. ^ Replacing Boeing 747-400
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  35. ^ http://www.bombardier.com/en/media/newsList/details.617-korean-air-to-acquire-up-to-30-bombardier-cseries-aircraft.bombardiercom.html
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  37. ^ "Korean Air introduces premium seats" (in Korean). 
  38. ^ "Absolut Celestial Bar on Korean Air A380 aircraft". Contrast Magazine. Archived from the original on March 24, 2012. Retrieved December 23, 2016. 
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  41. ^ Carrier moonlights in aerospace. Los Angeles Times. (18 February 2007).
  42. ^ Korean Air Aerospace Division Official Website. Kal-asd.com.
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  45. ^ Pasick, Adam (December 9, 2014). "Nepotism in a Nutshell". The Atlantic. Retrieved December 23, 2016.
  46. ^ "Ex-Korean Air Executive Arrested Over 'Nut Rage' Incident". NPR.org. December 30, 2014. Retrieved April 24, 2015. 

External links[edit]

Media related to Korean Air at Wikimedia Commons