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Korean Air extends mileage expiration dates amid pandemic

This undated Yonhap News TV image shows a Korean Air plane and notices about the use of mileage points. (Yonhap)
This undated Yonhap News TV image shows a Korean Air plane and notices about the use of mileage points. (Yonhap)
Korean Air Lines Co., South Korea's biggest carrier, said Wednesday it will extend the expiration dates of mileage that expired at the end of 2020 and mileage that expires at the end of 2021 to 2022 amid the coronavirus pandemic.

In June, Korean Air already extended mileage points due to expire at the end of 2020 by one year to 2021 as travel demand dried up due to the pandemic.

With the additional mileage extension, Korean Air plans to kick off its revamped SKYPASS mileage program in April 2023, two years later than the originally scheduled April 2021, the company said in a statement.

Korean Air announced the renewed mileage program in December 2019 to include a "cash and miles" payment option, implement a more rational mileage accrual and redemption system and lower elite membership entry barriers.

The company will introduce the option to use a combination of miles and cash or credit card to purchase tickets during a test-run period from Jan. 7, 2021, to Dec. 31, 2022, the statement said.

In June, its smaller rival Asiana Airlines Inc. also extended mileage points set to expire at the end of 2020 by one year.

The country's two full-service carriers followed recommendations from the transport ministry and the anti-trust regulator.

The two airlines have suspended most of their flights on international routes since March as countries have strengthened their entry restrictions to stem the spread of the pandemic.

Korean Air is in the process of acquiring Asiana in a deal worth 1.8 trillion won to seek economies of scale and better compete with its bigger rivals.

From January to September, Korean Air's net losses narrowed to 651.84 billion won from 707.14 billion won a year earlier as it focused on winning more cargo deals to offset dried-up travel demand.

But Asiana's net losses widened to 624 billion won in the first nine months from 524 billion won a year ago.

The carriers are expected to release their fourth-quarter and 2020 earnings results next month. (Yonhap)
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