(Bloomberg) -- The head of Korean Air Lines Co. said he is willing to make concessions to international regulators so the carrier’s merger with Asiana Airlines Inc. can go through.
“We are in this 100%, we will make it happen regardless of what we have to give up,” Chief Executive Officer Walter Cho said Monday in an interview with Bloomberg Television at a global aviation gathering in Istanbul. “I feel strongly, I’m going to push it all the way.”
The plan to combine with national rival Asiana in a 1.8 trillion won ($1.4 billion) deal, announced in 2020, has faced resistance from regulators in the US, Europe and Japan, who say it would hinder competition on routes. China, Australia, the UK and others approved the move following proposals to reduce Korean Air-Asiana’s market share, such as transferring airport slots.
“Basically they’re asking for more competition,” Cho said of the US, Europe and Japan. “We believe we have a good solution for it and I am positive I can convince them.”
Cho was speaking at the International Air Transport Association’s annual general meeting, where the mood was buoyant in the wake of the pandemic, with many carriers now returning to profit and posting record revenues.
Demand to the Americas and Europe is near pre-Covid levels and yields are even stronger, Cho said. “China is a little weaker, but is still opening up, so towards the end of the year we expect full regaining of demand,” he said.
Stock markets in South Korea were closed Tuesday for a holiday. Korean Air rose 1.4% Monday, the biggest gain since April 11. Asiana was little changed.
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