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Airline alliance

Asiana likely to withdraw from Star Alliance membership post-merger

Nov 17, 2020 (Gmt+09:00)

Asiana Airlines Inc., up for a merger with bigger crosstown rival Korean Air Lines Co., is expected to drop out of Star Alliance, a global airline alliance, once it’s placed under the control of Hanjin Group, the parent of Korean Air.

Industry sources said on Nov. 17 that nothing has been decided yet on Asiana’s membership in the alliance, but under Korean Air’s ownership, Asiana will likely join the SkyTeam Alliance, to which Korean Air belongs.

Asiana is expected to withdraw from Star Alliance if acquired by Korean Air.


Star Alliance, one of the world’s three major airline alliances, was launched in 1997 and currently has 26 members, including Asiana, Lufthansa, Singapore Airlines, Air Canada and United Airlines. The alliance network offers more than 19,000 daily flights to over 1,300 airports in 195 countries, connecting flights with its partners on international routes.

The SkyTeam alliance has 19 member airlines, including Korean Air, Air France and Delta Air Lines, and offers services for 15,445 daily flights to 1,036 destinations in 170 countries.

The anticipated move follows Korean Air’s announcement on Monday that it will spend 1.8 trillion won ($1.6 billion) to own a majority stake in beleaguered local rival Asiana, in a deal that will catapult it to become the world’s seventh-largest airline.

MILEAGE INTEGRATION, JOB CUTS IN THE OFFING

Korean Air said it plans to complete the acquisition by the end of the first half of 2021 and launch the merged entity in 2022.

If the merger proceeds as planned, the two airlines are also expected to sync mileage points for their customers.

According to the state-run Korea Development Bank (KDB), the main creditor for both airlines, the government aims to streamline the two carriers’ overlapping routes by the end of 2021.

Asiana Airlines airplane

But the transport ministry said on Tuesday it will not drastically cut their routes to minimize any inconvenience to their customers.

The merger will likely lead to vigorous restructuring, including job cuts.

Korean Air’s labor union issued a statement on Tuesday that they respect the company’s decision to acquire Asiana only on condition that it ensures job security for workers.

Meanwhile, the pilot unions of the two airlines said they opposed the merger plan, demanding their companies cancel the proposed combination.

Write to Kyung-Min Kang at Kkm1026@hankyung.com

In-Soo Nam edited this article.

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