DALLAS – The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) has given the green light for the merger of Korean Air (KE) and Asiana Airlines (OZ).
The two carriers are currently the only operators of passenger and cargo flights between Seoul, South Korea and Sydney, Australia. However, the pair will soon have competition from Qantas (QF) and Jetstar (JQ), who will commence services on the route from November 2022.
ACCC Chairperson Gina Cass-Gottlieb said, “The acquisition will combine the only two current providers of direct flights between Sydney and Seoul. Critically, however, Qantas and Jetstar will shortly be commencing services on this route.”
She added, “We consider that the Qantas Group offering flights on the Sydney to Seoul route with both its full-service and low-cost carriers means that there is likely to be effective competition whether or not the acquisition proceeds.”
Australia now joins numerous other countries such as Thailand, Singapore and Vietnam to approve the merger. European and US approval is hoped to be granted by the end of the year.
Meanwhile, South Korea’s competition watchdog conditionally approved the merger in February. However, it has announced several measures to avoid competition concerns. This includes returning several slots for specific routes over ten years to allow other carriers to enter these markets.
Korean Air announced its intention to purchase rival Asiana in November 2020 to ‘restructure the Korean aviation market amid the unprecedented crisis faced by the global aviation industry due to COVID-19.’ The two carriers will operate independently until integration is complete under the Korean Air branding.