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Korean Air Gets EC Approval on Asiana Airlines Merger

Our Bureau - : Feb 13, 2024 - : 7:38 pm

Korean Air, South Korea’s flag carrier, announced in Seoul on Tuesday (Feb. 13) that the European Commission (EC) has approved its merger with Asiana Airlines. This approval comes in the form of conditional clearance, which is subject to the airline’s compliance with certain commitments agreed upon with the EC.

The pre-consultation with the EC began in January 2021, followed by a formal merger notification in January 2023. The EC initiated a Phase II review in February and raised competition concerns in both passenger and cargo markets in a Statement of Objections issued in May.

To address these concerns, commitments were proposed, including the divestment of Asiana Airlines’ cargo freighter business and support for a new airline to enter four overlapping passenger routes between Korea and the EU, ensuring market competitiveness.

For cargo commitments, Korean Air and Asiana Airlines will oversee divestment through an advisory firm and the bidding process. EC approval of the buyer is necessary to finalize the merger and initiate the cargo divestment.

Regarding passenger commitments, T’way Air, a South Korean low-cost airline, will operate on designated European routes starting from the second half of this year, with Korean Air offering support.

With EC approval obtained, the airline is focused on finalizing discussions with the U.S. competition authority to conclude the merger review.

Since January 2021, Korean Air has submitted merger notifications to 14 competition authorities. Of these, 13 have approved the merger or concluded their reviews, citing no need for further action.

Photo: Aero Icarus, Wikimedia Commons

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