Korean Air plans return of A380 to European network

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Korean Air expects the arrival of its next Airbus A380 this year will give it the opportunity to reintroduce the type on European services, but it is yet to decide which destination will receive it.

Meanwhile the SkyTeam carrier is still waiting for Boeing to provide it with firm delivery schedules for 15 747-8 Intercontinentals and 787-9s it has on order.

KAL has five 407-seat A380s in service which it flies from Seoul to Hong Kong, New York, Los Angeles and Tokyo. Five more are on order, the first of which is due in the first half of 2012, said KAL, and the other four in 2014.

It briefly operated the A380 to Paris last year, but switched it to New York as this route had greater demand, said KAL. "We have a lot of premium seats in our A380 - including an all-business upper deck with 94 seats - so we will put it on to the route with the strongest premium demand."

KAL currently operates seven flights a week between Seoul and London Heathrow using 335-seat Boeing 747-400s and will add three more weekly London frequencies from April with the introduction of a 777-200ER on Seoul-Gatwick. It operates 747s and 777s, respectively, on its other two European trunk routes - Seoul-Paris and Seoul-Frankfurt. The airline says the European A380 destination choice is between these three cities. Last August the airline indicated it would introduce the A380 on its Seoul-Frankfurt route from December, but this plan was never finalised.

Meanwhile KAL admits that its fleet and network development plans remain fluid due to continuing uncertainty over the delivery schedule for its 747-8Is and 787-9s. The airline will this month receive the first of seven 747-8F freighters, but has yet to be provided with firm delivery schedules for the five 747-8Is and 10 Dreamliners it has on order in the wake of the programme and production delays.