LONDON – Over the past week, the South Korean flag carrier, Korean Air, has been given the green light on its merger with Asiana from the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) and will resume its services between Busan and Seoul.
The ACCC Green Light
Following quite a lengthy decision-making process, the ACCC has finally provided its verdict on the Korean Air and Asiana merger after they have conducted in-depth market research.
Ultimately the ACCC has now given the merger a green light to go ahead.
Ultimately what drove this decision is the fact that both Qantas and Jetstar will be starting direct services between Sydney and Seoul, meaning that there will be plenty of competition in the service across the three carriers.
Commenting on their verdict, the ACCC’s Chair, Gina Cass-Gottlieb, has said, “We consider that the Qantas Group offering flights on the Sydney to Seoul route with both its full-service and low-cost carriers means that there is likely to be effective competition.”
At present, alongside Australia, Korean Air has had approval from Korea, Malaysia, Singapore, Turkey, Taiwan, and Vietnam. Both the Philippines and Thailand have confirmed that the business combination report was not necessary.
Korean Air is now pending responses from the U.S., European Union, China, Japan, and the UK.
Busan & Seoul Services to Resume
Restarting on September 30, Korean Air will finally resume its ‘transit exclusive domestic flights’ between its home base, Seoul Incheon Airport (ICN), and Busan Gimhae International Airport (PUS) for the first time since the beginning of the Covid pandemic.
It is worth noting that these services are ultimately classed as international services as they are only available to passengers that are departing or returning to Busan that have international flights from Seoul’s Incheon Airport.
The restarted service will operate twice daily and will be operated by Korean Air’s Boeing 737 MAX 8 aircraft.
Currently, Korean Air has five Boeing 737 MAX 8’s in its fleet, all with a configuration of eight business class seats and 138 economy class seats.
They also have further orders for 25 more to join their fleet, for an eventual total of 30 of the type. Korean Air does also have 20 further options for the MAX 8 to bring their order to 50 if required.
The first service of the day to leave Busan is flight KE1402 which will depart at 07:00 am and arrive in Seoul at 08:10 am; the return of that service, flight KE1401, will leave Seoul at 09:30 am and arrive back in Busan at 10:35 am.
The second service of the day, flight KE1408, will depart Busan at 15:25 pm and arrive in Seoul at 16:35 pm, then the final return flight for the day, KE1407, will depart Seoul at 18:45 pm and arrive back in Busan at 19:50 pm. All times are local.
The green light from the ACCC is another step in the right direction for the Korean Air and Asiana merger to be fully granted to go ahead.
This now sits in the balance from the approval of the remaining involved countries before the two carriers can formally merge.
Also, the return of their transit domestic services to Busan will certainly be welcomed by many passengers, meaning their international connections are a lot easier to handle.