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IATA exec says more consolidation in aviation possible

Hanjin, KCGI continue to butt heads over Asiana deal

The International Air Transport Association’s regional vice president said on Wednesday that the aviation industry could see more consolidation between airlines from the same country in the wake of Korean Air and Asiana Airlines acquisition deal.

“We’ve had a number of airlines who’ve tried to set up regional operations but they’ve tended to be challenged by the ownership and control rules that apply in different countries with respect to air operator certificates,” said Conrad Clifford, IATA’s regional vice president for Asia Pacific, during an online media briefing.

“I would think that cross-border consolidation is probably going to be unlikely. But consolidation within countries, I would think that’s certainly a possibility,” he said.

His comments came on the same day as the Seoul Central District Court heard an injunction case brought by private equity fund KCGI, which leads a three-way alliance that owns a 46.71 percent stake in Hanjin KAL -- the holding company of Hanjin Group -- alongside Bando Engineering & Construction, and Cho Hyun-ah, who is the current chairman’s sister.

If the fund’s injunction request is accepted, the high-profile acquisition deal between Korean Air and Asiana Airlines could break apart, leaving Asiana Airlines under the control of its current creditors including the state-owned Korea Development Bank.

The group led by KCGI has opposed Korean Air’s move to acquire Asiana Airlines since the acqusition plans emerged.

In a statement on Wednesday, Hanjin Group accused the equity fund of putting its profit before 100,000 people’s jobs and warned that KCGI’s injunction could lead to the collapse of the country’s aviation industry.

Later in the day, KCGI accused Hanjin Group of using jobs as leverage to push through the acquisition deal. 

By Yim Hyun-su (