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US, UK expected to approve Korean Air's acquisition of Asiana Airlines

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Korean Air's B787-9 aircraft / Courtesy of Korean Air
Korean Air's B787-9 aircraft / Courtesy of Korean Air

By Kim Hyun-bin

The U.S. and the U.K. are expected to approve the proposed operations under the Korean Air-Asiana Airlines acquisition deal as early as November, according to industry officials, Sunday.

Korean Air expects that if approved by the U.S. and the U.K., it will have a positive effect on the European Union (EU), Japan and China competition authorities to follow suit.

Korean Air is said to be in negotiations with foreign airlines and domestic low-cost carriers to propose an alternative airline to operate instead of Asiana Airlines following the acquisition as the competition authorities require that Korean Air propose a new airline to operate on behalf of Asiana Airlines in order to maintain market competitiveness.

Korean Air is reported to have recently signed a business agreement with domestic low-cost carriers to operate routes to Europe and the U.S.

In the case of the Incheon-Los Angeles route, Air Premia will start service this month as a domestic airline, and the number of flights will be gradually expanded. Korean Air is also known to be in negotiations with Vietnam Airlines to take over some of its routes.

The remaining U.S. routes are expected to be taken over by U.S. airlines such as United Airlines and Delta Air Lines.

The U.S. Department of Justice is expected to interview Korean Air executives and managers this month and review measures proposed by Korean Air.

British airline Virgin Atlantic is expected to launch new flights between Incheon and London.

The U.K. Competition and Markets Agency (CMA) announced that it started the first main examination on Sept. 16 and will announce the results by Nov. 14.

The reviews of the EU and Japan are still slow compared to those of the U.S. and the U.K. In the case of the EU and Japan, the main examination has not yet started, and the preliminary consultation stage before the main examination is in progress.

Analysts say that the EU will be the biggest obstacle in the deal between the two Korean carriers as it tends to be strict about companies forming potentially monopolistic structures outside of Europe.

Kim Hyun-bin

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