Asiana delays A350 launch date

Asiana A350-900

Korean carrier Asiana Airlines has delayed the launch of its new Airbus A350 aircraft, citing the need to schedule for tests and perform maintenance work on the vessel.

The rescheduling of the inaugural flight means that Hong Kong will no longer be the launch destination for Asiana’s first A50. The inaugural flight was initially planned to fly to Hong Kong starting May 9 followed by Manila starting May 10. The aircraft would then switch from serving Hong Kong to operating on Asiana’s Incheon-Osaka route starting June 15, with both services then ceasing A350 operations on August 13 ahead of its planned deployment to San Francisco and then London.

Under the revised schedule, Asiana’s debut A350 flight (OZ703/OZ704) will now depart to Manila on May 15, followed by Hong Kong (OZ721/OZ722) starting May 16.

No other changes have been announced for the rest of the A350’s previously planned schedule.

Travellers looking to fly on the airline’s debut A350 flight and who booked ahead of the announced schedule change can request a refund or reissue from Asiana’s reservation centre or their travel agent.

Asiana took delivery of its first A350 last week, making it the 12th carrier to take delivery of the aircraft. The carrier’s new Economy Smartium travel class is set to be debuted on the A350 and offers an increased seat pitch along with priority boarding and lounge access at Incheon Airport.

Hong Kong Airlines and Asiana begin codesharing

Asiana Airlines A350-900

South Korean carrier Asiana Airlines and Hong Kong Airlines have entered into a codeshare agreement effective immediately, which will see the two carriers place their codes on each other’s respective flights between Hong Kong and Seoul.

The agreement will see travellers with either airline now able to choose from a total of five daily flights between the two cities. Four of these are operated by Asiana Airlines, while Hong Kong Airlines operates one daily flight between Hong Kong and Seoul.

“We launched the daily flight service from Hong Kong to Seoul last December, which was our first route to Korea,” said Hong Kong Airlines COO, Li Dianchun. “From then we have been actively exploring ways to improve schedule options on this route. By connecting the hubs of the two airlines, the codeshare does not only benefit customers travelling between Hong Kong and Seoul, it also allows customers to seamlessly transfer when they travel on an itinerary to or from other destinations that includes flights operated by both carriers.”

In March, Asiana Airlines announced it will be deploying its first new Airbus A350-900 on its OZ721/722 (HX1551/1552) flights between Seoul and Hong Kong from May 9 to June 14. Hong Kong Airlines, meanwhile, is set to receive its first A350-900 in August this year.

The new codeshare brings Asiana’s total number of codeshare agreements to 277 routes in 25 countries with 30 airlines. (For more information on Asiana Airlines’ codeshare routes, see Business Traveller Asia-Pacific’s “Asiana Airlines: What you need to know”.)

Details of the new Seoul Incheon (ICN)-Hong Kong (HKG) codeshare flights are as follows (all times local):

Flight No. Operating carrier From To Departs Arrives Days
OZ721/HX1551 Asiana Airlines ICN HKG 0900 1140 Daily
OZ723/HX1553 1000 1240
OZ745/HX1565 1950 2230
OZ749/HX1569 2010 2250
HX623/OZ9291 Hong Kong Airlines 2335 0205+1 Mon, Wed, Fri, Sun
HX628/OZ9293 1635 1910 Tue, Thu, Sat
Flight No. Operating carrier From To Departs Arrives Days
OZ722/HX1552 Asiana Airlines HKG ICN 1310 1740 Daily
OZ724/HX1554 1340 1820
OZ746/HX1566 0030 0510
OZ750/HX1670 0050 0530
HX622/OZ9292 Hong Kong Airlines 1735 2235 Mon, Wed, Fri, Sun
HX629/OZ9294 1110 1535 Tue, Thu, Sat;

Asiana to fly first A350 to Hong Kong

Junkboat in Hong Kong

Hong Kong will be the first destination to be served by an Asiana Airlines Airbus A350 aircraft, the airline has confirmed with Business Traveller Asia-Pacific.

The Korean carrier will begin deploying its new A350 to Hong Kong starting May 9 this year, departing Seoul Incheon at 0900 hours and arriving in Hong Kong at 1140 hours. The airline will then cease flying the aircraft on its Seoul Incheon-Hong Kong route on June 14 this year, before deploying the aircraft on its Seoul Incheon-Osaka Kansai route starting June 15.

In addition to the Hong Kong route, Asiana will also begin flying its A350 between Seoul Incheon and Manila starting May 9. Both the Manila and Osaka routes are scheduled to cease being operated by A350s on August 13, with the aircraft due to be deployed on the airline’s San Francisco route in mid-August, followed by London Heathrow in late December.

Asiana had previously planned to debut its first new A350 on May 15, on its Osaka and Manila routes, however according to a spokesperson for the airline, Asiana “wanted to introduce the newest, state-of-the-art A350 aircraft as early as possible and all things considered, Hong Kong was the most suitable destination for us”.

The airline’s A350s will be configured with 311 seats across three tiers – Business Smartium, economy and its new Economy Smartium seat offering, which will debut on the aircraft. Economy Smartium, while being similar to economy class seating in terms of recline, width and seat-back screen size, will offer 36 seats with 3-4 inches more pitch, along with providing travellers in the category with priority boarding and access to the Asiana Business Class Lounge at Incheon International Airport.

In addition to its A350s, Asiana is also expanding its fleet with new A321neos expected to begin operating in the near future.

Asiana Airlines: What you need to know

Asiana A380

Founded: Asiana Airlines was established on February 17, 1988, approximately 19 years after South Korea’s flag carrier Korean Air.

Home base: As one of South Korea’s two major carriers, Asiana is primarily based out of Seoul’s two major airports – Incheon International Airport and Gimpo International Airport. It also operates a number of routes from Busan’s Gimhae International Airport.

Fleet size: As of March 2017, Asiana’s fleet comprises a total of 83 aircraft.

Its six Airbus A380s include first suites, Business Smartium and economy; the airline’s two Boeing 747-400s and two 747 Combi offer first, business and economy class; its 11 B777-200ERs feature first suites, first class, Business Smartium, business and economy class; its seven A320-200s are economy only; while its seven B767-300s, 15 A330-300s, two A321-100s and 23 A321-200s each offer business and economy class.

Route network: Asiana’s route network primarily comprises international services, with 79 international routes covering 65 cities in 23 countries. Its domestic network, meanwhile, entails 11 routes to ten cities.

China is Asiana’s major market with more than 30 routes to cities including Guangzhou, Nanjing, Dalian, Beijing, Shanghai, Shenyang, Shenzhen, Chengdu, Chongqing, Tianjin, and Hong Kong, among others. Southeast Asia is its next largest market, flying to Indonesia, the Philippines, Singapore, Taipei, Thailand and Vietnam.

Further abroad, Asiana has routes to Frankfurt, Istanbul, London, Paris and Rome, while its services to the US include Chicago, Honolulu, Los Angeles, New York, San Francisco and Seattle.

Most recently in March 2017, the airline launched its A380 service between Seoul and Frankfurt, replacing the existing 359-seat Boeing 747 that operated the route.

Alliance: Asiana has been a member of Star Alliance since 2003. Among the airline alliance’s other Asia-Pacific carriers are Air China, Air India, Air New Zealand, All Nippon Airways (ANA), Asiana Airlines, Eva Air, Shenzhen Airlines, Singapore Airlines and Thai Airways.

Other Star Alliance members include Adria Airways, Aegean Airlines, Air Canada, Austrian Airlines, Avianca, Brussels Airlines, Copa Airlines, Croatia Airlines, Egypt Air, Ethiopian Airlines, LOT Polish Airlines, Lufthansa, Scandinavian Airlines, South African Airways, Swiss, TAP Portugal, Turkish Airlines and United.

Codeshares: In addition to codeshares with fellow Star Alliance members, Asiana also has codeshares with Air Astana, Air Busan, Air China, Air Macau, Air Seoul, China Southern, Etihad, Myanmar Airways, Qantas, Qatar Airways, S7 Airlines, Shandong Airlines, and Sri Lankan Airlines.

Frequent flyer programme: Asiana’s frequent flyer programme is called Asiana Club and includes five tiers: Silver, Gold, Diamond, Diamond Plus and Platinum. Miles can be accrued on Asiana Airlines and Star Alliance partner airline flights.

At the entry Silver level, miles accrued are valid for ten years from the date of boarding or date of accumulation, whichever is first. Platinum members attain their rank after accumulating one million miles or by flying on 1,000 Asiana Airlines flights after joining, and is for life.

Separately from Asiana Club, the airline also last year launched Asiana First Membership – a new programme for business class travellers, aimed at providing them with low-cost upgrades to first class on select flights. One-time purchases for a single round-trip are valued at KRW700,000 (US$609), while an annual membership with unlimited upgrades can be purchased for KRW1.3 million (US$1,131). Both include access to the airline’s first class lounge.

That said, Asiana First Membership is somewhat limited, being offered only on Asiana’s long-haul services to Los Angeles, New York and Frankfurt. Back in August 2015, the carrier axed first class from the majority of its flights citing low demand and rising losses.

Future plans: Starting in May 2017, Asiana will be offering a new Economy Smartium service aboard its new A350s. The seats offer 3-4 inches of additional pitch compared with its regular economy offering, and will be located in a separate space comprising 36 seats. That said, the airline has stopped short of calling it a premium economy offering – seat width, screen size and recline are all unchanged from its economy seating – though it does include certain benefits including priority boarding, access to the Asiana Business Class Lounge at Incheon Airport and in-flight amenities (the latter two will only be available for long-haul passengers).

Asiana’s first A350-900 – which is set to offer Business Smartium, its Economy Smartium and economy class options – is scheduled to be deployed on May 15, 2017. The airline is planning to deploy these aircraft on its Osaka and Manila routes, followed by San Francisco and London later this year.

Meanwhile, Asiana will also be adding up-to-date A321neos to its fleet in the near future. In February 2015, it signed a letter of intent to purchase 25 of the aircraft as part of its ongoing fleet modernisation programme.

Asiana and United expand codeshare

Chicago Cloud Gate

Korean carrier Asiana Airlines and United Airlines are expanding their codeshare agreement to include each other’s flights between Seoul Incheon and Chicago O’Hare International Airport.

The codeshare is due to take effect starting March 17, though reservations for the flights have already opened. United will be placing its UA code on Asiana’s OZ236 and OZ235 flights between Seoul and Chicago, meanwhile Asiana’s OZ code will be added 16 of United’s routes from Chicago to domestic destinations, notably Pittsburgh and Boston.

“The expansion of the codeshare with United Airlines is a part of Asiana Airlines’ strategy for strengthening its network to and from the US,” the Korean carrier said in a statement. “Asiana Airlines will continue to deepen its partnership with United Airlines to achieve customer satisfaction travelling to America.”

Once the codeshare comes into effect later this month, Asiana and United will be codesharing on all flights operated by Asiana to the continental US, which includes services to Los Angeles, New York, San Francisco and Seattle.

Asiana flies non-stop between Seoul and Chicago five times weekly. Its service currently flies on Monday, Wednesday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday, though from March 26 to October 28 the service will change its Saturday operation to a Thursday operation.

Details of Asiana’s Seoul Incheon (ICN)-Chicago O’Hare (ORD) are as follows (all times local):

Flight No. From To Date Departs Arrives
OZ236/UA7316 ICN OHD 12/3-25/3 2020 1940
26/3-28/10 1935
OZ235/UA7315 OHD ICN 12/3-25/3 2355 0400+2

Asiana to launch Economy Smartium seats in May

Asiana A350 Ecnomy Smartium

Korean carrier Asiana Airlines is set to begin introducing a new Economy Smartium offering aboard its Airbus A350 flights starting May 15, when it debuts its first A350 aircraft.

According to the airline, its new 311-seat A350s will include 36 Economy Smartium seats offering 3-4 inches additional seat pitch compared with its regular economy seats. Economy Smartium will offer a total seat pitch of 36 inches, while the rest of its seat measurements will be unchanged from its economy seating, with width, recline and screen sizes all being the same.

While Economy Smartium offers greater pitch than regular economy seating, the airline is not going so far as to label it as a premium economy offering. Speaking to Business Traveller Asia-Pacific, a spokesperson for the airline said Economy Smartium “can be defined as an upgraded economy class section with extra legroom and some special services”. These include priority boarding, access to the Asiana Business Class Lounge at Incheon International Airport, and with in-flight amenities – though lounge access and amenities will only be available for long-haul passengers.

This offering differs more notably than Asiana’s existing Business Smartium class, which offers a different seat product than its standard business class including fully flat beds and direct aisle access for all seats.

Economy class passengers will be eligible to upgrade to one of the Economy Smartium seats with a one-way surcharge of 30,000 won (US$30) for flights to Japan, China and Northeast Asia, 60,000 won (US$60) for Southeast Asia flights and 150,000 won (US$150) on flights servicing the US, Europe and Oceania. Asiana opened reservations for the new seat class on Thursday (March 2, 2017).

Asiana will be debuting the Economy Smartium on its daily A350 Osaka flights and six-times-weekly Manila flights starting May 15. These will be followed by San Francisco in August and London in the fourth quarter of 2017. Inflight wifi and smartphone roaming services will also be available.

In related news, Asiana also launched its daily A380 service between Seoul and Frankfurt on Sunday, March 5, replacing the existing 359-seat Boeing 747 that previously operated the route. The A380 will offer 495 seats, with 12 in first, 66 in Business Smartium, and 417 in economy class. Asiana’s A380s notably offer what the company claims are “the world’s widest” monitors at 32 inches in its first class suites.

Details for the route are as follows (all times local):

Flight No. From To Departs Arrives Days
OZ541 Incheon Frankfurt 1250 1630 Daily
OZ542 Frankfurt Incheon 1830 1240+1

Asiana offering first class upgrade membership

Asiana Airlines Airbus 380

South Korean carrier Asiana Airlines has introduced a new membership programme aimed at offering business class travellers low-cost upgrades to first class on select flights.

The Asiana First Membership offering allows customers with eligible business class tickets (J/C/D) to purchase a one-time pass for KRW700,000 (US$611) valid for one round-trip upgrade to first class. Meanwhile, regular flyers can buy an annual membership valid for one year that enables unlimited upgrades to first class, for KRW1.3 million (US$1,135).

Members will earn miles based on their originally purchased fare class, however the new Asiana First Membership does enable access to the carrier’s first class lounge as well as priority check in.

While the membership is certainly attractive for regular business class travellers aboard Asiana, there are some limitations. Aside from requiring travellers have a J/C/D fare class ticket, the membership only provides upgrades for the airline’s Los Angeles (LAX), New York (JFK) and Frankfurt (FRA) routes.

In August 2015, Asiana announced it would be axing its first class offerings on all aircraft except its Airbus A380 as part of cost-cutting measures. A distant second-place competitor to Korean Air, the carrier has been struggling in recent years, announcing a restructuring plan in January 2016 and cutting a number of its international routes to destinations in Japan, Siem Reap and Kota Kinabalu throughout October this year.

Tourism from India to South Korea is on the rise

Central Park, Songdo, South Korea

Catering to the rising demand of travellers from India, Korean airlines are increasing service between the countries.

Asiana Airlines and Koran Air have multiple daily connecting flights between Mumbai and Delhi, and Seoul. In addition to this, Asiana Airlines has increased its direct service between Seoul and New Delhi from three to four times a week.

Direct flight OZ768 leaves New Delhi at 0220 and reaches Seoul at 1310 on Sundays, Mondays, Wednesdays, Thursdays and Fridays.

A press release shared by Korea Tourism Organisation reveals that both the airlines have plans to wax flight frequencies between the countries, starting December.

Byungsun Lee, director of Korea Tourism Organisation says, “Over 1,50,000 Indians visited South Korea last year and we have had almost 90,000 within (the past) seven months (this year). We are confident of surpassing last year’s numbers by the end of 2016. As we approach the festival season and the winter holiday season, we plan to widen our efforts and establish South Korea as a preferred leisure destination amongst various traveller segments including families, honeymooners and adventure lovers.”

Statistics recorded at the end of July 2016 show that there has been a 47.9 per cent increase of Indian tourists into South Korea from the same period of 2015.
Korea Tourism Organisation states: “The tourism board’s efforts in educating the travel trade partners to promote the destination in the best possible manner, the proactive business approach from the DMCs (destination management companies) and connecting with the end traveler through tactical media platforms have been the key factors in (achieving this) result.”

Thai Airways expands codeshare partnership with fellow Star Alliance members

Thai Airways A350

Thai Airways has started codesharing with several of its Star Alliance members on new routes.

According to, the flag carrier of Thailand has begun placing its TG marketing code on Asiana Airlines’ flights between Busan and Jeju, as well as those between Seoul Incheon and Jeju.

Thai Airways is also partnering with Brussels Airlines on its services from Brussels to both Toronto and Washington Dulles. This partnership is particularly noteworthy as it provides the Thai carrier with a new connection entryway into North America – a market it does not currently serve.

The growing importance of the North American market is emphasized further by the expansion of Thai Airways’ codeshare partnership with All Nippon Airways. With effect from October 30, Thai will start codesharing on ANA’s Tokyo Haneda–Chicago O’Hare and Tokyo Haneda–New York JFK services.

With the FAA having downgraded Thailand’s aviation rating from Category 1 to Category 2 last year, Thai-based carriers are not allowed to establish new services to the US.

For more information, visit

Clement Huang

Asiana’s first A380 takes flight

Airbus has confirmed that Asiana Airlines’ first A380 has successfully completed its maiden flight.

The newly assembled superjumbo flew from Airbus’ facilities in Toulouse, France to the aircraft manufacturer’s site in Hamburg, Germany, where it will undergo painting as well as cabin furnishing to the specifications outlined by the Korean carrier.

Upon taking delivery of the A380 in Q2 of 2014, Asiana will become the 12th operator of the aircraft. The airline has a further five A380s on order, and intends to initially operate the superjumbo on long-haul routes to Los Angeles and New York.

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Clement Huang