COVID-19 derails major moves in South Korea’s airline sector

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Recent developments in the South Korean airline industry highlight how much COVID-19 has shaken this market – and how the fallout has affected some airlines more than others.

The pandemic hit during a particularly sensitive period for the Korean airline sector. Major takeover deals involving Asiana Airlines and Eastar Jet had been agreed to but not yet closed, and these moves would have brought significant changes to the industry landscape. But both deals have now collapsed, prompting restructuring for the airlines as they attempt to shape a new course.

Another major change expected this year was the launch of new LCCs, as the government allowed an expansion of this market segment. However, their preparations have been severely disrupted and their debuts deferred by the COVID-19 crisis.

As with most external shocks that have hit the airline industry, the latest crisis will be hardest for the airlines that were already in trouble, or those just getting off the ground.

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