The UK’s Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) is considering approving a revised plan from Korean Air over its proposed acquisition of compatriot Asiana Airlines.
The CMA on 28 November says “there are reasonable grounds” that a modified merger plan “might be accepted”, helping pave the way for an eventual green light. The regulator will have until end-January to deliberate and issue its final decision.
The CMA’s disclosure, which will likely provide some relief to Korean Air, comes two weeks after it raised concerns around the impact of the merger on the London-Seoul route.
It notes that as the only two operators serving Seoul directly from London, a merger between the two Korean carriers would leave only indirect competitors on the route, and could lead to higher fares for passengers and affect cargo services.
Korean Air first announced plans to acquire Asiana two years ago, as the coronavirus pandemic turned the country’s aviation sector on its head. It has so far received the go-ahead from several competition regulators, including in Australia and Singapore.
Still, Korean Air has yet to get the regulatory nod from key markets like the USA, China, and the European Union. The airline had previously said its acquisition plans were “still on track” despite being slower than expected in gaining approvals.