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A350 and 777X in contention for Korean widebody order

Korean Air is considering both the Boeing 777X and Airbus A350 family for what could be a major widebody order, as well as leaning toward additions to its 787 fleet.

Speaking with reporters at the Association of Asia Pacific Airlines (AAPA) Assembly of Presidents in Jeju, the SkyTeam carrier's chief executive Walter Cho notes that the carrier's market has grown, particularly on transpacific routes.

"We have a lot of need for widebodies," he says. "We don't have anything I can share right now, but we're in the process... The 777X is coming up, and it will be a good replacement for our current 777; and we're also keeping an open mind toward the A350 as well."

He adds that Korean's widebody employment is unusual, in that it uses large types both on international routes and regional routes, namely the 50min flight from Seoul Gimpo to Jeju.

Despite his ambiguity about a 777 replacement, Cho remains keen on adding to Korean's in-service fleet of eight 787-9s and firm orders for two more.

"We're looking at all options right now," he says. "We don't have a plan yet. But since we already have a 787 fleet, there is a very high possibility we'll expand our fleet on the 787."

Cho declined to give a firm timeline for Korean's decision regarding future widebodies, or to specify numbers. He acknowledges, however, that the carrier operates too many types.

Flight Fleets Analyzer shows that Korean operates 103 widebodies, spread across five types. The average age of the fleet is 9.7 years. The oldest jets are its four remaining 747-400s, with an average age of 21.5 years.

Cho says that the 747-400s are infrequently used and costly to operate, and will therefore be retired soon.

The average age of the airline's 14 777-200s is 15.5 years, and its 21 A330-300s 14.4 years.

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