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Korean Air to replace A380, 747-8I with smaller planes for efficiency: CEO

Korean Air A380 (Korean Air)
Korean Air A380 (Korean Air)

Korean Air plans to replace its A380-800 and B747-8I aircraft with smaller planes to increase efficiency, the carrier’s chief executive officer said Thursday.

Cho Won-tae, the chairman of Hanjin Group and Korean Air CEO, said he has confirmed the plan to ditch the Airbus A380-800 in the next five years and Boeing’s 747-8I over the next 10 years in an interview with FlightGlobal.

Korean Air currently owns 10 units of both the A380-800 with 407 seats and the B747-8i with 368 seats. Asiana Airlines, which is in the process of merging with with Korean Air, also has six units of the A380-800.

In 2019, Korean Air ordered 20 units of the B787-10 and 10 units of the B787-9, and they are expected to replace the larger aircrafts now set to retire.

The airliner already has 10 units of the B787-9 in its inventory.

With 269 seats, the B787 has a 20 to 25 percent higher fuel efficiency compared to same-level aircrafts, and also emits 20 percent less carbon dioxide and nitrogen oxide.

The carrier did not place any orders for the 777-9, which Boeing is currently developing.

“I believe the Boeing 777 is one of the most successful aircraft in aviation history,” Cho said.

While revealing that the B777-300ER is his favorite model, and that he has not ruled out the Boeing 777X, Cho said there are still some points that need to be verified.

“I may consider it after that, but I don’t think we’ll have large demand for new aircraft for some time as we already have a significant number of aircraft in operation or on order.”

Regarding the 737 Max, which was grounded globally for a couple of years following fatal crashes in 2018 and 2019, Cho expressed confidence.

“I was always confident in the Boeing 737 Max from the beginning despite the tragic incidents,” says Cho.

“Boeing could have dealt with the situation better, but I trust Boeing’s commitment to its customers, including Korean Air.

His confidence in the Boeing 737 Max remains the same, and he believes the Max is now one of the safest and most proven aircrafts out there, Cho said.

Korean Air ordered 30 units of the 737 Max in 2015. They have not yet been delivered due to safety concerns.

By Jo He-rim (herim@heraldcorp.com)
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