SEOUL — After reviewing in detail the ‘Excellence in Flight’ that Korean Air (KE) proudly advertises around the world, it was time for Airchive.com to head on and explore where all the KE magic begins: its headquarters.
For such a massive airline, one would think its main offices must be quite large. As a matter of fact, they are. Located at Gimpo Airport (western end of Seoul, about 9 miles from the city center), the massive building displays a gigantic ‘Korean Air’ billboard on its top. Gimpo Airport, formerly known as Kimpo International Airport, used to be Seoul’s main international gateway before Incheon (ICN) opened in 2001. Today, Gimpo is the second largest airport in the country, serving as a domestic/regional hub for KE, Asiana, Jeju Air, T’way Airlines, Jin Air, Eastar Jet, Air Busan, Japan Airlines, ANA and Shanghai Airlines.
At this location, KE trains and prepares all of its crew – all the way from ground to in-flight staff. There’s also the airline’s main catering center located in front of the main building where all hot meals are prepared and shipped to Incheon for what they call “assembly.” Korean also caters for many other airlines in the region, including Malaysian, who has a particular limitation given its Islamic passenger majority. Apparently, KE went through a tough certification process to be allowed to cook this specialty. The building’s surroundings are well secured, with a high security protocol mandatory for all personnel and visitors, for which pictures in-site was mostly restricted. Upon entering the massive building, a gorgeous KE Boeing 747-8i model is on display next to a Renault Formula 1 car sporting the airline’s branding. As one climbs through the elevator and reaches upper floors, a great view of the rear maintenance hangar can be appreciated. This is where the airline handles their Boeing 737 fleet maintenance.
The building also has several conference halls and auditoriums. At the moment of our visit, several presentations were being given to hundreds of staff members, all impeccably uniformed. It is very notable how KE devotes a large amount of effort in training their in-flight crew to the best of their abilities, while also making sure they all look sharp and elegant.
The dining halls in the building are the most remarkable we have ever seen at any airline headquarter. There are over five buffet-style restaurants available for thousands of workers who spend most of their days making Korean one of the best carriers in the planet. One of the surprises we came across with was two fantastic Private Jets parked at the main hangar, both in-sight from the buildings dining halls. These two belonged to KE’s corporate jet division, Korean Air Business Jet.
Korean Air Business Jet
At the moment of our visit, the Korean Air’s corporate division jets were parked facing each other at the maintenance hangar. The two aircraft, a Boeing 737BBJ and a Bombardier Global Express XRS, are often leased for Business or Luxury travel by Government or Private VIPs
The Korean Air Business Jet product is indeed quite fascinating. The airline advertises this service with the slogan “Your time is uniquely valuable to you.” Through this concept, the airline allows its most premium passengers the choice, convenience and privacy of its Private Jet service, served by the most proficient flight attendants and crew.
Boeing 737 BBJ
The Boeing 737BBJ is equipped with four bedrooms and six VIP seats in a luxurious “First Zone” (front side of the plane). In its “Business Zone,” however, 180-degree flat reclining seats also provide a comfortable solution for those passengers who don’t need to sleep privately.
The cabin layout of this fantastic jet can be modified upon request by the client. It can vary from a 16-seat layout, up to a 28-seat configuration for higher density travel. The aircraft can fly up to 6,301 miles with 16 passengers on board, and 6,000 miles with 28 passengers – about twelve hours of non-stop luxury.
Flexjet Connect Program
The smaller Private Jets offered in the program are all manufactured by Bombardier. These work under the “Flexjet Connect Program,” which allows passengers to fly without a long-term commitment, and a more on-call basis. This program flies passengers on their own schedule to more than 5,000 airports in the U.S. and Central/South America from Korea. This service also features a private car which picks passengers up to/from the airport of their choice. The aircraft used for this operation are the Bombardier Global Express XRS, Challenger 300 and LearJet 45XR
The Korean Business Jet service offers quick and easy check-in and boarding procedures with dedicated staff who assists the passenger all the way from check-in until boarding; private lounges at smaller airports combined with the airline’s global network of First Class rooms; a dedicated in-flight service; the best Korean and Occidental award-winning in-flight dining, all created by a team of chefs; and the comfort and safety provided by the best private fleet in the industry. With this impressive portfolio, Korean Air commits in meeting the ideal business partner of those who need the privacy and effectiveness of flying with luxury.
There is no question that Korean is one of the best carriers in the world. This can easily be measured by their consistency in each one of their flights, offering an impeccable service full of Korean culture. In 2012, the airline managed to transport 16.93 million passengers on its international network, and 7.35 million domestically. As for its cargo division, they carried over 1.42 million tons to international destinations, being a detrimental part of their service portfolio. KE flies to 13 cities within South Korea and to over 112 cities in 44 countries around the globe. The airline has a total of 147 aircraft in its fleet, all operated and serviced it by the best possible team of people in all of the airline’s hubs. The visit to their headquarters just confirmed these facts. Korean does offer excellence in flight.
Special thanks to Korean Air for inviting Airways, Ashley Chung for her hospitality and for making this report possible.