Korean Air has made a sizable splash at the Paris Air Show on June 16, signing commitments for up to 102 Boeing and Airbus aircraft.
Seoul-based Korean Air has signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with Airbus to acquire up to 50 A321neo jets, becoming a new customer for the single-aisle Airbus A320 family.
Korean Air has also announced its intent to order 30 Boeing 737 MAX jets and two additional Boeing 777-300ER widebodies, and to take options on an additional 20 737 MAXs.
Boeing values the potential new firm Korean Air order at approximately $3.9 billion at current list prices and it makes Korean Air a new customer for the Boeing 737 MAX. Boeing says it will work with Korean Air to finalize the order, at which time the order will be posted to Boeing’s Orders & Deliveries website.
The Airbus MOU, which covers a planned firm order for 30 aircraft and options on 20 more, was signed at the Paris Air Show by Korean Air Group Chairman Cho Yang Ho and Airbus President and CEO Fabrice Brégier.
According to Airbus, Korean Air will operate each of its Airbus A321neos in a two-class, full-service layout on Asian regional services, including longer sectors to selected destinations in Southeast Asia.
This suggests that the airline may specify some of its A321neos to be of the new, 97-tonne maximum gross weight A321LR long-range version.
All of Korean Air’s A321neos will be powered by Pratt & Whitney PW1100G-JM geared-turbofan engines. The aircraft will be fitted with premium amenities, including wider seats in both classes and the latest in-flight entertainment and connectivity systems.
“After an extensive technical evaluation we are pleased to announce that Korean Air will introduce Airbus single-aisle aircraft for the first time,” says Cho. “The A321neo will bring new levels of efficiency, longer flying range and greater in-flight comfort to our single aisle fleet, as well as reduced impact on the environment.”
Korean Air is Airbus’ longest-standing customer from outside Europe and placed its first order with the manufacturer in 1974. Since that time Airbus widebody aircraft have formed a sizable part of the Korean Air fleet.
Today, Korean Air operates 10 Airbus A380s and has a total of 35 A330 mid-size widebodies in service and on order. Korean Air operates its A380s and A330s on services throughout the Asia-Pacific region, as well as on selected routes to Europe.
Korean Air’s Boeing 737 MAX commitment includes 737 MAX 8s and substitution rights for MAX 9s. When the deal is finalized, the Korean flag carrier will increase the size of its order backlog with Boeing to 69 aircraft.
The carrier’s June 16 commitment for two additional Boeing 777-300ERs comes on the heels of the airline’s order for five 777 Freighters earlier this year, raising Korean Air’s total orders and commitments with Boeing in the first six months of 2015 to 37 single-aisle and widebody jets.
Korean Air currently operates a fleet of 87 Boeing passenger jets, including 737-400s, 737-800s, 737-900s and -900ERs, 747-400s, 777-200ERs, 777-300s and 777-300ERs.
The carrier also has 10 Boeing 747-8 Intercontinental jets and 10 787-9s on order, as well as two 777-300ERs and 15 737NGs.
Meanwhile, Korean Air Cargo operates an all-Boeing cargo fleet of nine 747-400Fs, eight 747-400ERFs, five 747-8Fs and five 777 Freighters. Korean Air Cargo also has orders outstanding for two 747-8Fs and five 777Fs.
Korean Air’s Aerospace Division is a Boeing partner on both the 747-8 and 787 programs, supplying the distinctive raked wing-tips for each model. It is also one of two suppliers producing the new 737 MAX Advanced Technology Winglet.