Korean Air Mulling ‘Large’ Widebody Jet Order for Expansion

(Bloomberg) -- Korean Air Lines Co. is considering a “large order” for widebody aircraft as part of a fleet expansion and to replace aging jets with fuel-efficient ones amid rising oil prices.

The Seoul-based airline is evaluating twin-aisle airplanes from Airbus SE and Boeing Co., including the A350 and the 777X, President Walter Cho said in a media briefing at an aviation conference in Jeju, South Korea. A decision on the purchase may be made next year, he said, without elaborating.

“We are pleased with our current fleet of Airbus and Boeing, but they are starting to show their age,” Cho said. “We have to do replacement.”

While carriers in Asia are adding more planes to their fleets to meet surging travel demand, they are also looking to retire their old aircraft that guzzle more fuel. For airlines in Asia, fuel costs top expenses. The airline also expects demand to grow as its joint venture with Delta Air Lines Inc., which started in May, brings more traffic into Asia.

The airline could exercise options for 10 Boeing Dreamliners and could order more, Cho said. It is also looking at Boeing’s mid-range jets with the working title New Mid-Market Aircraft, while it’s not too keen on A330neos at the moment, he said.

Korean Air will take delivery of its first A321neo and 737 Max next year, which will be used to fly on some of its medium-haul flights, replacing some of the widebodies it’s currently using.

©2018 Bloomberg L.P.