Korean Air Places $13.7 Billion Order For 33 New Airbus A350s

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  • Korean Air will sign a $13.7 billion contract with Airbus for 33 A350 aircraft.
  • New A350s will replace older aircraft for a more sustainable and efficient fleet.
  • Korean Air’s order book now includes a total of 143 Airbus and Boeing aircraft, with a mix of widebodies and narrowbodies.

Korean Air has announced that it will sign a multi-billion dollar contract with European aircraft manufacturer Airbus for 33 Airbus A350 aircraft. The deal includes both variants of the type, the -900s and -1000s. The airline now has over 140 aircraft on its order books, which will be delivered in the years to come.

Korean Air



Year Founded



Walter Cho

A New Aircraft Type

Today, South Korean carrier Korean Air announced it would sign a contract with Airbus for the much-anticipated order for the Airbus A350 aircraft. The deal is valued at $13.7 billion and will include 33 aircraft. This includes 27 A350-1000s and six of the smaller A350-900s.

The airline announced that these new aircraft will replace some of the older aircraft, thus ensuring the airline maintains a young and efficient fleet, which also aligns with the carrier’s sustainability efforts. The A350 offers a reduction of 25% in carbon emissions compared to previous generation aircraft of the same size, making it one of the most eco-friendly aircraft available in the market and a highly desirable aircraft for operators worldwide.

Airbus livery A350 coming in to land

Photo: Tom Boon | Simple Flying

The A350-1000 can accommodate between 350 and 410 passengers in a standard three-class configuration, with a range of 8,600 nautical miles (16,000 km) when operating with full payload. The smaller A350-900 has a capacity of 300 to 350 passengers in a three-class layout, with an operational range of around 8,300 nautical miles (15,370 km).

Another 15 A350s?

The readers following the news about Korean Air would probably know that the carrier, for a while now, has been in talks with acquiring Asiana Airlines, a fellow carrier also based in South Korea. This key point was also addressed in the announcement made by Korean Air today. The airline stated that the order for the A350s would prepare the carrier for integration with Asiana Airlines, which already operates 15 of the smaller A350-900s.

However, the process of acquiring Asiana has been met with some hurdles, namely from the Department of Justice (DoJ) in the United States and, until recently, the European Commission in Europe.


Korean Air-Asiana Airlines Merger Gains European Approval

Korean Air and Asiana Airlines have agreed to certain divestments to satisfy the EU’s competition regulators.

Asiana Airlines Airbus A350-900 flying and banking

Photo: Vincenzo Pace | Simple Flying

The DoJ’s main concern is that by acquiring Asiana, Korean Air would essentially eliminate any competition present on several routes between Seoul Incheon International Airport (ICN) and certain destinations in the US. Previously, the DoJ has also stated it would consider suing Korean Air if it went ahead with the acquisition.


US Department of Justice Eyes Lawsuit Against Korean Air Asiana Merger

Concerns over competition continue to hold up the merger.

While it is unclear how the DoJ can sue carriers outside the US, it successfully sued JetBlue and Spirit Airlines, blocking their proposed merger.

The Order Book

With the A350s added to Korean Air’s order book, the airline is now expecting a total of 143 aircraft, a mix of wide and narrowbodies from both Airbus and Boeing. The aircraft to be delivered stands as follows:

Aircraft Type

Numbers On Order







Boeing 737-8


Boeing 787-9


Boeing 787-10


While the A350, as previously mentioned, is a new aircraft type for the aircraft, the remaining aircraft types can be integrated into the existing fleet as Korean Air either already operates the aircraft type or another aircraft from within the same family (Korean Air operates the 787-9s but not the 787-10s).

Have you flown with Korean Air previously? If so, let us know of your experience in the comments below!

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