Korean Air A380 aims for business passengers

Korean Air operated its first long-haul Airbus A380 flight Tuesday from Seoul Incheon to New York JFK, and believes the aircraft can help it attract new business passengers.

“We hope we can increase our corporate sales with the A380,” Managing VP and Head of Passenger Business Division Keehong Woo told reporters in a briefing Monday at the carrier’s Seoul headquarters. KE now has two A380s in its fleet; in addition to the newest one, which will be operated on the ICN-JFK route, it is utilizing one to fly from ICN to Tokyo Narita and Hong Kong.

It is slated take delivery of three more A380s this year and will place them in service from ICN to Paris Charles de Gaulle, Beijing and Los Angeles, respectively.

KE has configured the A380 for 407 passengers, the fewest of any of the airlines that have taken delivery of the aircraft. It has dedicated the upper deck to 94 business-class seats, an inflight lounge dubbed the “Celestial Bar” and a “Duty Free Showcase.”

Woo noted, “We put all business class in the upper deck. [The upper deck] looks like a business jet … We see that we can make more money [in business class] than in economy. We have more potential to develop business class … We think in the big markets, like LA and New York and big cities in Europe, we can fill up our [A380] business class.”

He pointed out that most A380 operators have placed economy seats in the rear of the upper deck. The main deck of KE’s A380 features 301 economy seats and 12 first-class suites.

Woo conceded that, in the past, KE has not enjoyed the same reputation for business-class service as some of its rivals. “It takes time [to alter perceptions], but we’ve changed a lot recently,” he said. “We think we are at the level of any other airline, like Cathay [Pacific Airways] or Singapore [Airlines], in terms of quality of service, quality of product and quality of operations.”


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