Asiana to Fly A380 Super Jumbo Jets
Airline to invest 2 tln won to buy six passenger jets to fly int'l routes from 2014 to become a leading airline
Chairman Park Sam-koo of Kumho-Asiana Group
Asiana Airlines Inc. will purchase six A380 super-jetliners from Airbus and put them in service in 2014 at a cost of 2 trillion won, or 400 billion won per plane, the airline said recently.
Chairman Park Sam-koo is said to have swung another big deal as he often did in the past since his recent comeback to the helm of the Kumho-Asiana Group. An A380, often referred to as Oa flying hotel,O is a super passenger liner built and marketed by Airbus. The plane is 73 meters long, 79.8 meters from wing tip to wing tip and 24.1 meters high, capable of seating from 700 to 800 passengers per flight, and is equipped with all kinds of amenities including a shower room, a bar and more.
The brand new passenger liner is also lighter, made with such cutting edge materials as glass fabrics, aluminum silica and titanium, among others, and therefore uses less fuel.
Officials of the airlines said the decision to import A380 jetliners is part of Asiana's determination to be reborn as a premium-class airline, joining such airlines as Emirates, Air France, Lufthansa, Qantas and Singapore, to name just a few.
All major airlines in the world are engaged in tough competition to secure more passengers by putting in service those super-large airliners, and Asiana, too, has had no choice but to join the competition by importing those super jetliners.
Asiana officials said the new airplanes will be a medium-to-high upgrade to the airlines' status as a global super airline, along with the record profit Asiana set last year.
The blockbuster deal attracts special attention since it is the first mammoth deal since Chairman Park's return as the boss of the group and a member of the founding Park family, which owns the group. He retired from the group in 2009 as a way of taking responsibility for the put-back option on Daewoo Construction when the group took over the construction company, which left the group's finances in difficulty, but he came back on Nov. 1 last year to claim the old title.
During a New Year's ceremony for the group on Jan. 3, the chairman said this year is the initial year for the group's new start, showing off his passion to lead the group to new heights. He said he thought hard about the group's early graduation from workout and potential new investments including new airplanes as part of his strategy to lead the group to new heights.
The airline industry has been surprised by Asiana's huge move, breaking its long silence to announce a massive investment to expand its airplane fleet. Industry sources said the move will upgrade the airline's position as a global airline and they expect Asiana to wage an intensive marketing campaign backed up by its record profit last year.
According to the Financial Supervisory Service, Asiana's first three quarters of sales last year came to 3.8 trillion won and net income was 531.9 billion won, after sustaining losses in 2008 and 2009.
In 2010, Asiana Airlines international flights surpassed the 10 million passengers-in-one-year mark for the first time since its establishment in 1988. Asiana recorded its highest ever results per quarter last year. Early estimates predicted that 9.76 million passengers would board Asiana's international flights this year, but predictions have since surpassed 10.48 million for the end of 2011.
Not only has the demand increased for Asiana's strong routes such as Korea/Japan, Korea/China and the Southeast Asian routes, but also continuous demand has increased for the U.S. routes leading Asiana to recording its highest performance record last year. AsianaOs previous highs were recorded back in 2007 with 8.67 million international passengers.
Asiana's President & CEO Yoon Young-doo commented, ODue to our customers' continuous support and loyalty not only did Asiana record its highest results, but it was able to achieve its record in reaching its 10 millionth international passenger in a year." He added, OAsiana will repay this gratitude by improving and providing the worldOs best services to our customers."
In order to repay the continuous support of Asiana's customers, Asiana held a giant cake cutting and lucky draw event at Incheon International Airport on Dec. 17.nw