Air Incheon Tapped to Acquire Asiana Airlines Freighter Business

An Asian Airlines 747 cargo freighter on the taxiway.
Tomás Del Coro from Las Vegas, Nevada, USA, CC BY-SA 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

In a move set to reshape the Korean air cargo landscape, Korean Air has named Air Incheon as the preferred bidder for the acquisition of Asiana Airlines’ global cargo freighter business.

The decision was finalized during a board meeting on 17 June 2024. It marks a further significant step towards Korean Air’s complete takeover of Asiana Airlines.

Asiana’s Established Cargo Presence

Asiana Airlines boasts a well-established cargo division, playing a significant role in the Korean air freight industry.

Their freighter network stretches across Asia, North America, and Europe. It caters to a diverse clientele with a range of cargo needs.

The airline utilizes a fleet of modern cargo aircraft, including Boeing 747-400 Freighters and mid-sized Boeing 767 Freighters. These widebody aircraft offer efficient and reliable cargo transportation solutions.

However, the ongoing merger with Korean Air necessitated the divestment of the cargo business. This was necessary to address competition concerns raised by regulatory bodies.

This divestiture presented an opportunity for a new player to emerge as a major force in Korean air cargo.

Korean Air Begins Process of Asiana Cargo Sell-Off

Air Incheon: Korea’s All-Cargo Airline

Founded in 2012, Air Incheon quickly established itself as Korea’s sole all-cargo airline. Its operations have primarily focused on regional routes within Asia.

The operator is strategically positioned near Incheon International Airport, a major cargo hub in the region.

Air Incheon utilizes a fleet of modern freighter aircraft, including the efficient Boeing 737-800 Freighters, well-suited for shorter regional routes.

A Korean Air and an Asiana Airlines aircraft both approaching to land.
Hyeonwoo Noh, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

A Strategic Acquisition for Air Incheon

The acquisition of Asiana Airlines’ cargo unit presents a strategic opportunity for Air Incheon to significantly expand its reach and capabilities.

Gaining access to Asiana’s extensive long-haul network to the Americas and Europe will allow Air Incheon to cater to a wider range of customers and destinations.

Additionally, incorporating Asiana’s fleet of larger Boeing 747 Freighters will provide Air Incheon with the capacity to handle larger cargo volumes. This means that it will be able to compete more effectively in the long-haul market.

This acquisition is expected to solidify Air Incheon’s position as a dominant player in the Korean air cargo industry, potentially challenging Korean Air’s market share.

An Air Incheon 737 freighter approaches to land.
byeangel from Tsingtao, China, CC BY-SA 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

The Road Ahead: Negotiations and Regulatory Approval

Korean Air and Air Incheon are expected to finalize contract details in July, paving the way for a framework agreement.

However, the deal hinges on securing approval from the European Commission, which previously expressed concerns about competition in the air cargo market due to the initial merger.

Korean Air has emphasized its commitment to a swift and adaptable negotiation process to finalize the sale and expedite the full acquisition of Asiana Airlines.

The successful completion of this deal will significantly reshape the Korean air cargo landscape, potentially leading to increased competition and improved services for customers.

Industry Implications: A Reshaped Landscape

The acquisition of Asiana’s cargo unit by Air Incheon is likely to have a ripple effect on the Korean air cargo industry.

The emergence of a stronger Air Incheon could potentially lead to increased competition on both regional and long-haul routes.

This competition could benefit customers by driving down prices and potentially leading to improved services and innovation within the industry.

However, there are also concerns about the potential impact on smaller players in the market. The consolidation of resources under Air Incheon could create a dominant force. This potentially makes it more challenging for smaller airlines to compete effectively.

Overall, the acquisition marks a significant development in the Korean air cargo industry. The coming months will be crucial in determining the final outcome and its long-term implications for the various stakeholders involved.

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By Len Varley - Assistant Editor 5 Min Read
5 Min Read
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