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Korean Air offloads cargo unit in US$360 million deal
Air Incheon chosen as preferred bidder, framework agreement expected in July
Tom King 19 Jun 2024

Korean Air has selected Air Incheon as the preferred bidder for Asiana Airlines’ global cargo freighter business in a deal worth about US$360 million.

The decision to select Air Incheon from among three final bidders, which included low-cost carriers Air Premia and Eastar Jet, was made at Korean Air’s board of directors meeting on June 17, the South Korean flag carrier says in a statement.

It was based on several key criteria: the certainty of completing the transaction, the ability to maintain and enhance long-term competitiveness of the air cargo business, and the capability to mobilize funds through a competent consortium.

“The preferred bidder was selected through a comprehensive evaluation of all factors crucial to the growth of the air cargo industry, a key national industry, while maintaining the existing competitive environment,” says a Korean Air representative. “We are committed to quickly finalizing the sales process through flexible negotiations and completing the acquisition of Asiana Airlines.”

Founded in 2012, Air Incheon is Korea’s only all-cargo airline, with operations focused on Asia. Air Incheon is now expected to strengthen its competitiveness by developing Asiana Airlines’ long-haul network to the Americas and Europe, and fleet of larger cargo aircraft.

Korean Air plans to sign a framework agreement with Air Incheon in July after agreeing on the contract conditions. The agreement is subject to review by the European Commission.

Backed by the South Korean government, Korean Air acquired Asiana Airlines in a US$1.62 billion deal in 2020, as the global airline industry suffered heavy losses due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

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