New airport to boost KAL’s operations, says chairman

by Canadian Shipper

Korean Air is continuing its campaign to become a more viable competitor in the global airline industry, following last month’s opening of the Incheon International Airport and inauguration of its $400 million investment in the facility, said KAL chairman Y.H. Cho.

“We are aiming for operational excellence by reinforcing our infrastructure and strengthening our core skills. A new airport is a very important part of that mix. Incheon puts China and other parts of Asia within easy reach of the United States where Korean Air has a very large presence,” said Cho.

The airport cost $U.S four billion to build and can handle 27 million passengers and 1.7 million tons of cargo on 170,000 flights per year. This is a significant capacity for Korean Air as the largest transpacific cargo carrier, says the airline, and Korean Air expects Incheon’s 24-hour operation will give it a competitive edge in the air freight industry. Equally important is the substantial transit traffic that will pass through Incheon to China.

“China is wide open and we already fly to seven destinations there. The Incheon connection enhances our ability to attract passengers and cargo into and out of that impressive market,” said Cho.

He said other structural reinforcements include modernizing and simplifying KAL’s fleet of 112 planes that fly to 75 cities in 29 countries. KAL will accept a total of 14 new Boeing and Airbus jets this year including three 747-400s and eight Next Generation 737s. Additionally, the company has invested in new information technology, including a $6 million flight watch safety system to advise pilots of weather and airport issues.

KAL’s multi-million dollar stake in Incheon Airport includes the building of new cargo, catering and maintenance facilities and a 534-room hotel.
“Operationally, we are not the same airline we were four years ago. We are establishing new measures, creating new training programs, enforcing procedures. Moreover, Flight Safety Boeing has been training our pilots for the past two years and the program is working,” said Cho.

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