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Boeing 737 MAX aircraft (Photo: AirlineGeeks | Katie Bailey)

Korean Air to Launch Boeing 737 Max Flights from March

Korean Air officially announced its plan to start flying the Boeing 737 Max in March, following the aircraft’s ferried flight from storage to Seoul, South Korea on Feb. 13. The Korean flag carrier confirmed a deal of 30 737 Max in 2015. However, the delivery has been delayed due to two deadly accidents involving the aircraft in 2018 and 2019 — leading to months of investigation into safety protocols and improvements.

Six 737 Max will join Korean Air’s fleet in the early phase. It is expected the remaining 24 aircraft will be delivered by 2028.

According to the carrier, it will carry out its own safety measures, including dispatching a special maintenance team consisting of veteran engineers and pilots with more than 7,000 hours of flight to operate the new aircraft. In addition, South Korea’s Transport Ministry will work closely with the airline over the safety concern.

“We will put all efforts for its safe operation under the supervision of the Transport Ministry,” the airline said, in a statement.

Other carriers gradually started operating the 737 Max after grounding the aircraft for 20 months. Boeing said more than 30 airlines flying the plane virtually without incident for more than 800,000 hours. Even Qatar Airways canceled its order from Airbus, inking the deal of 25 737 Max, along with options to subscribe 25 additional aircraft. According to Boeing, the order is worth $34 billion.

Meanwhile, the Hong Kong government approved the airline can operate the 737 Max. Meanwhile, China’s Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC) issued an Airworthiness Directive (AD)  for the 737 Max, paving the way for 737 Max to return to the skies. However, the Chinese government hasn’t provided further details for the 737 Max. According to the CAAC, China’s 13 airlines own a total of 97 aircraft.

Despite the pandemic not being out of the woods, Korean Air is seeing the light at the end of the tunnel. Due to the strong demand for cargo services, Korean Air has reported a net profit of 638.6 billion won ($530 million) in 2021, compared to a net loss of 194.6 billion won in the previous year.

Merger with Asiana 

According to the government’s figure, passenger traffic has dropped 7.7 percent, compared to 2020. The number of international travelers has plummeted by 78 percent, but domestic travel has increased 32 percent.

The airline said the spread of Omicron and other possible virus variants still threaten the aviation industry in 2022.

In addition, Korean Air moved a step closer to merging with Asiana Airlines after Singapore had given a green light. The airline still needs to wait for the six other countries and parties’ approval, such as the U.S., European Union, United Kingdom, Japan, Australia and China to complete the acquisition.

“In order to finalize the acquisition process as early as possible, Korean Air will continue to proactively communicate and cooperate with the remaining regulatory bodies,” the airline added.

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