Korean Air Orders 20 More A321neo Jets

Korean Air Orders 20 More A321neo Jets

DALLAS — Airbus and Korean Air (KE) have announced that the Seoul Incheon Airport-based carrier has ordered an additional 20 Airbus A321neo aircraft. The order is part of KE’s fleet modernization plans, follows their initial order of 30 A321neos, and brings the airline’s total commitment to the A321neo to 50 units.

KE is deploying these aircraft on its short- to medium-haul routes, primarily in Japan, China, and Southeast Asia. KE has a single-aisle aircraft configured to accommodate 182 passengers in two cabins: 8 fully lie-flat business class seats and 174 seats in economy. It is also the first Asian airline to have the Airbus Airspace cabin interiors, and it features in-flight Wi-Fi, a rarity among Asian airlines. The Airbus Airspace cabin includes new lighting, larger overhead bins, and full connectivity throughout the aircraft.

Koran Air Executive Vice President and Chief Safety & Operating Officer Yoo Jong-Seok, via a Korean Air press release, said, “The A321neo is aligned with Korean Air’s commitment to reducing carbon footprint while providing exceptional services. Its contemporary design, advanced technology, and spacious interior redefine the travel experience.”

Korean Air’s first A321neo. Photo: Airbus

Fleet Modernization 

Since the airline has already taken delivery of eight A321neos, its backlog sits at 42 aircraft. The airline took delivery of its first A321neo in October 2022, and it entered into commercial service in December 2022. According to KE, the 20 additional A321neos will be delivered through December 31, 2030. 

In addition to the A321neos, KE operates a fleet of 24 Boeing 737 MAX and 737-800 aircraft. It took delivery of its last 737 MAX in August 2022 and, as of September 30, 2023, has 24 Boeing 737 MAX unfilled orders. According to KE, it placed the order for the additional A321neos due to its reduced carbon emissions, operational efficiency, flight safety, and high level of passenger satisfaction with the aircraft type. 

The announcement is in line with the airline’s fleet modernization plan, where KE will take delivery of 110 new aircraft in the coming years. These next-generation aircraft include the Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner, Boeing 787-10 Dreamliner, Boeing 737-8, and A321neo. The modernization will also see the airline return its Boeing 777-200ERs and Airbus A330-300s. Korean Air operates a fleet of over 130 Airbus and Boeing aircraft across its freight and passenger businesses.

Korean Air and Asiana Airlines aircraft parked at Seoul Incheon International Airport (ICN). Photo: Korean Air

Korean Air Merger

Korean Air, which is in the process of merging with fellow South Korean carrier Asiana Airlines (OZ), delayed a final decision regarding the merger between the airlines. Executives from both carriers met on October 31, 2023, concerning the agreement requiring Asiana Airlines to sell its cargo operations to adhere to the European Commission’s competition guidelines.

In a statement, the carriers announced that the board meeting is now in recess and that the executives will reconvene in early November to make a final decision. Even with approval from the European Commission, KE still needs approval from Japan, the United States, and the European Union in order for the airline merger to go through. 

Featured image: HL-8505, Korean Air Airbus A321-272neo. Photo: Korean Air

Online Deputy Editor
Airways Online Deputy Editor Joshua Kupietzky has a passion for aviation and deep expertise in the aviation industry. He’s been enamored with the facts and figures of the airline industry and the details of the make and model of commercial aircraft for as long as he can remember. Based in Chicago, US. Follow him on Instagram, @jbkaviation

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