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Korean Air files report for Asiana takeover

Aircraft of Korean Air and Asiana Airlines sit on the tarmac at Incheon International Airport on Jan. 6. (Yonhap)
Aircraft of Korean Air and Asiana Airlines sit on the tarmac at Incheon International Airport on Jan. 6. (Yonhap)
The nation’s flagship air carrier Korean Air on Thursday filed documents to the Fair Trade Commission and antitrust authorities in eight other countries for a review of its planned takeover of the debt-laden Asiana Airlines.

“We’ve had a business combination application submitted by Korean Air regarding the purchase of Asiana Airlines’ shares,” the FTC said in a statement.

The airline also took the same steps in eight other countries including the United States, Japan, China and the European Union. For the takeover to go as planned, Korean Air needs approval from each and every country in which it operates.

Under the country’s Monopoly Regulation and Fair Trade Act, any takeover by a business entity with assets or sales of 300 billion won ($273.22 million) or more is subject to the watchdog’s review and approval. The given process is expected to take 30 days but may be extended for a further 60 to 90 days, according to the FTC.

Thursday’s announcement is the latest in a series of steps taken by Korea’s largest airline to acquire its longtime rival Asiana Airlines, a merger that will give birth to one of the largest airlines in the world by 2023.

As of end-2019, Korean Air accounted for 22.9 percent of all domestic air routes, while Asiana Airlines accounted for 19.3 percent. Taking into account their respective low cost carriers, the combined market share of the two air carriers is set to surpass the 60 percent mark.

Korean Air is under the wing of Hanjin Group, along with subsidiaries such as Jin Air, Korea Airport Service and Cyber Sky.

Asiana Airline and its low-cost sister airlines Air Seoul and Air Busan are currently part of Kumho Asiana Group.

In a briefing last month, the airline’s president Woo Kee-hong announced plans for a mega international low-cost carrier combining three existing budget airlines -- Jin Air, Air Seoul and Air Busan -- to be operated by a separate company.

By Yim Hyun-su (