Korean Air’s merger with fellow South Korean airline Asiana Airlines has been approved by The Ministry of Commerce of the People’s Republic of China (MOFCOM).

Asiana Airlines, a member of Star Alliance, operates 90 international passenger, 14 domestic passenger, and 27 cargo routes throughout Asia, Europe, North America, and Oceania.

MOFCOM demanded that the new Korean Air-Asiana entity reduce its market share due to competition concerns. Korean Air, a founding member of the SkyTeam airline alliance, submitted remedies proposing to transfer slots to any new airlines wishing to start air services on nine routes where both Korean Air and Asiana Airlines operate.

In his New Year’s address to the Korean Air team, Korean Air’s Chairman and CEO, Walter Cho, emphasized the importance of gaining a competitive edge as the aviation industry normalises post-Covid-19.

“2023 is a pivotal year for completing the huge task of closing our acquisition of Asiana Airlines. We are in the last stage with the remaining overseas competition authorities reviewing the merger,” he said.

Five of the nine routes have been proposed by the Korea Fair Trade Commission (KFTC) earlier this year and an additional four routes have been advised by MOFCOM.

Currently, Korean Air is still waiting for business combination approvals from the US, EU, and Japan, as well as final approval from the UK.

The airline submitted business combination reports to the nine countries that require reporting on January 2021. Out of these nine countries, Korean Air has received approval from China, Korea, Turkey, Taiwan, and Vietnam. The Thailand Competition Commission announced that the submission of a business combination report was not necessary.

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From countries where reporting is arbitrary, Korean Air has received clearance from Singapore, Malaysia, and Australia. The Philippines has confirmed that the business combination report was not required.