Korean Air schedules A380 on London route

29 Oct 2015 by Alex McWhirter

Korean Air will operate an A380 between Seoul Incheon and London Heathrow next year.

On March 27, the airline is scheduled to replace the B777-300ER that currently flies the daily route with the superjumbo.

So, it looks like it will be third time lucky for LHR.

Four years ago, the Skyteam member was expected to select London as the European launch city for its A380. But it never happened; at the last minute, Korean Air favoured Skyteam hub Paris Charles de Gaulle instead (see news, February 2011).

Then, the following year, Londoners' expectations were again raised when the airline decided to launch A380 services to a second European city. But these were soon dashed when Korean Air plumped for Frankfurt instead (see news, February 2012).

This time, Londoners can afford to be more optimistic as the A380 schedule, due to commence on March 27, is now been posted on the carrier's website.

What's interesting is that Korean Air has the lowest seat count of any A380 operator. To read our guide to Korean Air's A380, click here.

Its 407 seats are spread over first, business and economy, while the interior is quite roomy compared to other airlines' A380s that accommodate another 100 passengers or more.

Air France's A380, for example, seats 516 passengers over four classes, and British Airways' A380 carries 469 passengers in four classes.

However, Emirates takes the biscuit with three different A380 configurations for 489, 517 or 615 passengers. The latter layout, a two-class 615-seat superjumbo, is now undergoing final flight testing by Airbus with planned service entry in December.

Until the A380 arrives at Heathrow, Korean Air is operating what it calls a "newly-refurbished" B777-300ER with its latest Kosmo Suites 2.0 in first class, fully-flat bed seats in business, plus what is termed "new economy" class configured nine-across.

What is intriguing is that this aircraft carries a mere 277 passengers, which is spacious when compared to Air Canada, whose high-density B777-300ER manages to accommodate no fewer than 450 passengers. (Originally, Air Canada's seat count was 458 but some seating is now been removed.)

Korean Air is competing against BA, which operates a daily B787 on the route, but does not offer first class. And while, unlike Korean Air, BA has a premium economy cabin, its economy seating is a tight nine-across. (The B787's cabin is narrower than that of the B777-300ER).

Also note that Korean Air is not just concerned with flying to Seoul Incheon. The latter functions as a regional hub for Asia and so clever travellers find it easier to reach numerous domestic cities in Japan via Seoul than via Tokyo.

It's the same scenario in the UK with some UK regional cities accessed more easily via Amsterdam than via London.

Alex McWhirter

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