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Asiana Airlines is an airline based at Seoul Incheon International Airport with a secondary base at Seoul Gimpo International Airport in South Korea. Majority-owned by one of South Korea's largest conglomerates, the Kumho Asiana Group, Asiana is the second-largest airline in South Korea and an increasingly important player in the East Asian region. The airline serves destinations across Asia, North America, Australia and Europe. Asiana is a member of the Star Alliance.
Location of Asiana Airlines main hub (Seoul Incheon International Airport)
Asiana Airlines share price
767 total articles
48 total articles
South Korea-Japan airline market sees structural change from LCCs, political tension & weakening yen
The once tidy and highly profitable Japan-Korean market is undergoing fundamental change – accompanied by double-digit yield declines.
It is difficult to identify precisely which ingredients are provoking the greatest change in the South Korea-Japan airline market. First, in mid/late 2012 the market was transformed as new airlines entered and others added capacity; these were mainly LCCs with unprecedented low fares. Then late 2012 saw Japanese outbound tourist numbers fall sharply due to political tensions between South Korea and Japan over largely uninhabited but disputed islands.
In 2013 the Japanese outbound market remains soft as the yen weakens. While the international political situation will eventually cool down, the Korean response has been to target individual tourists rather than tour groups, a change that was long overdue in any event.
But the difference now is that those individuals have LCCs to provide for their needs. These carriers are here to stay, and they will grow – for the usual reasons, but also due to the weakening yen. While the economic and political factors favour the Korean side, it is the Japanese side that has a larger share of the market.
Siberia-China seat capacity grew 202% between 2003 and 2012 and China's northern City of Harbin is now jockeying to become a network hub for Siberia. The airport accounts for 15% of Siberia-China capacity, far less than the largest Chinese airport, Beijing, 1000km to its southeast. Harbin offers geographical advantages to Siberian cities in the far east while Beijing can serve those with some circuitry as well as western Siberian cities. Urumqi in China's far west could also be a hub for Siberia, supporting China Southern's development of Urumqi as a West Asia/CIS hub.
The motivation is simple. Siberia's 40 million population has proven an increasingly important trade relationship for China – so much so that in the economic turmoil of 2009, Siberia was the only part of Russia to maintain a positive investment trend. China is tapping Siberia for resources ranging from wood to oil and, increasingly, hydroelectricity from Siberia's numerous rivers. Russia's largest private energy company forecasts Siberia's GDP could triple in 15 years.
One of the highest growth rates in North Asia in 2013 will be from South Korea's Asiana, which is projecting a 9% increase in RPKs. This compares to 4% RPK growth at Korean Air and modest growth from All Nippon Airways and Japan Airlines. Many Chinese carriers will have similar or higher growth, but notably Air China will be lower as it runs out of slots.
The focus in 2013 for Asiana, globally the 54th largest airline based on capacity and sixth largest for intra-Asia international capacity, is regional flights, increasing capacity to cities including Chongqing and Yangon and launching new services to Denpasar and Jakarta. This traffic will help feed its long-haul network, due to commence notable expansion beginning in 2014 as A380s replace 777-200ERs, facilitating their re-deployment to new routes.
South Korea's largest carrier, Korean Air, is modest – too modest. It punches above its weight and is a formidable carrier being the largest Asian airline in North America. Asian carriers are increasingly favouring North America: in the short term its economy is doing better than Europe's and in the long term competition will be lighter owing to fewer carriers.
Geography is on its side given Korea's relative proximity to North America. Korea is not as close as Japan is, but Japanese carriers face a higher cost base, nearly twice that of Asiana and Korean.
Korea is also an efficient springboard from China, where Korean Air is the largest foreign carrier after Dragonair and rival Asiana, allowing it to tap sixth freedom markets as Chinese carriers sluggishly respond to that huge potential. Korean Air is increasing North American capacity, including with A380s, but also looking to new markets around Asia.
It certainly took North Asia some years to have momentum for low-cost airlines that was anything like booming Southeast Asia. 2012 delivered on that with three new LCCs launching in Japan and plans underfoot in Hong Kong for Jetstar Hong Kong as well as a possible transformation of Hong Kong Express into a LCC. While elsewhere the region may not have gone as far as producing LCCs, there is active discussion of having LCCs and the reforms needed to welcome and support them.
Talk is strongest in Taiwan, which has seen considerable growth from LCCs in North and Southeast Asia. South Korea is considering how and when its LCCs can become better competitors, shedding some of the comforts they have been unwilling to charge passengers. Japan will see growth, from existing LCCs and new ones, a challenge for incumbents. Reforms in China may enable LCCs in the future to launch, while all LCCs are watching how to be hybrid and chase yields. These are eight North Asian LCC topics to watch for in 2013.
Asiana aims to significantly expand capacity on US routes after it becomes the sixth Asian and second South Korean carrier to operate the A380 in 2014. Asiana has six A380s on order and plans to initially deploy the super jumbo on long-haul routes to Los Angeles and New York as well as on some dense regional routes within north Asia such as Hong Kong, Shanghai Pudong and Tokyo Narita.
Frankfurt is the most likely destination for Asiana’s last batch of A380s, which will not be delivered until 2017. While the carrier does not plan to open any new routes with its A380s, the new type will free up Boeing 777-200ERs to launch new destinations in Europe and North America. Asiana’s long-haul network is currently limited to only six destinations in North America and three in western Europe, making it a much smaller long-haul carrier than local rival Korean Air (KAL). Asiana also has 30 A350s on order for delivery from 2017 but these aircraft are intended for regional routes within Asia-Pacific.
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