Asiana Airlines is gearing up to add six Airbus A380s to its fleet, although the Korean flag-carrier has no plans to schedule the superjumbo on services between Sydney and Seoul.
The airline’s first A380, due for delivery in 2014, will make regular runs from Seoul to Europe and the US – two of Asiana’s most popular and profitable routes.
“Long-haul flights are expected to grow by more than five percent each year due to free trade agreements (with the United States and the European Union) and the (US) visa waiver programme,” says Asiana CEO Yoon Young-Doo.
The A380 decision means Asiana will go head-to-head with rival Korean Airlines, which dominates Korean’s long-haul intercontinental market compared to Asiana’s focus on regional short- and medium-haul flights.
Korean Airlines will begin flying its first A380 in May, using the world’s first all-business class configuration on the upper deck. Asiana has not yet revealed its own A380 configuration.
Asiana’s daily Sydney-Seoul service will continue to use the Boeing 777-200ER, which from later this year will include the airline’s OZ Quadra Smartium business class seats.
These lie fully flat at the horizontal, with a 74 inch (just shy of 1.9 metre) length and a 15 inch pitch.
A rolling refit to the 777-200ERs sees the Smartiums installed in a 1-2-1 configuration, which provides each passenger with direct access to the aisle.
Asiana has also adopted the same staggered layout which we’re seeing on an increasing number of airlines, including Cathay Pacific’s new business class and Air New Zealand’s premium economy Spaceseat.
In related news, members of Aiana's Asiana Club frequent flyer program can now earn and burn points through a partnership with Etihad Airways.
Passengers flying first class in Etihad get 150% of the total mileage added to their Asiana Club account, with a 125% bonus in business class and a 1:1 rate for economy.
Asiana Club points can be traded in on all regular Etihad flights at the same rate as with any Star Alliance partner.