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Korean Air’s Fleet And How It’ll Evolve in Coming Years

Korean Air has become over the years one of the main players in air travel in the far east. As the economy of South Korea developed so did its national carrier. Today the airline carries millions of passengers every single year to 98 destinations in 39 countries around the world. Personally, this is one of my favourite airlines to fly with as I find the in flight service always positive. So today we’ll look deeper in to the structure of Korean Air’s fleet in 2024.

The Korean Air Fleet in 2024

First of all the main distinction tom make when looking at the Korean Air fleet is setting apart the freighter fleet from the passenger fleet. The airline along with the passenger operations operates an extensive network of cargo flights.

So that’s exactly what we’ll be doing in this analysis. We’ll look first at the passenger fleet and then at the airline’s cargo fleet.

How Many and Which Boeing Planes Does Korean Air use in 2024?

How Many and Which Boeing Planes Does Korean Air use in 2024?

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The Passenger Fleet

Korean Air’s passenger fleet operates both Airbus and Boeing aircraft with the latter providing the majority of the planes. Korean Air has a very limited number of domestic destinations which are often served by A220s. The fleet of 24 737s covers the remainder of the domestic flights and many of the short to medium range international routes.

Korean Air uses its fleet of wide body aircraft for high demand medium range flights and all its long haul flights. However the Korean flag carrier has gradually brought to a halt its A380 operations.

Korean Air’s Boeing Passenger Fleet

  • 34 Active Boeing 777s of which:
    • 25 Active Boeing 777-300ER
    • 4 Active Boeing 777-300
    • 4 Active Boeing 777-200ER
  • 13 Boeing 787-9 (with 1 more on order)
  • 1 Boeing 787-8
  • 9 Active 747-8
  • 23 737s of which:
    • 1 737-700
    • 2 737-800
    • 15 737-900
    • 5 737MAX 8

Among the 8 747-8 that the Korean flag carrier operates is HL7644. What makes this plane so special is that it is the last passenger 747 to be produced by Boeing at Everett.

Korean Air’s Airbus Passenger Fleet

  • 5 Active Airbus A380
  • 9 Airbus A321neo
  • 23 Airbus A330 of which:
    • 5 A330-200
    • 18 A330-300
  • 8 Active Airbus A220-300

The Issue: An Ageing A330 Fleet

One big issue the Korean airline will need to tackle sooner rather than later is the ageing A330 fleet. The average age of the 25 Airbus A330 in Korean Air’s fleet is above 17 years.

The airline will need to invest soon to replace this workhorse that serves both long range routes and high demand shorter connections. So make sure to come back regularly to find out if there is any news from the two major aircraft manufacturers regarding Korean Air.

The New A350s Korean Air Has Purchased, Why?

Korean Air placed an order for 33 brand new Airbus A350s. Although the airline has a fleet of Airbus A330s which is growing older and older it is most likely that these A350s will be replacing the Boeing 777s. Why is that?

Well KE ordered 27 A350-1000 and 6 A350-900. How is that a clue you might ask? The A350-1000 is in the same capacity range as the Boeing 777 and Korean Air was a prime candidate to order the 777x. Also the numbers overlap almost perfectly, there are 34 777s and 33 A350 are now on order. I don’t think that this is just a series of coincidences.

Korean Air Airbus A330 parked at a gate in Seoul's secondary airport Gimpo international waiting for boarding. The plane is part of Korean Air fleet of medium haul planes serving high capacity Asian destinations.

Which Airbus Planes Does Korean Air Use?

Korean Air’s Cargo Fleet

To complete this analysis of the KE fleet we need to look at the airline’s cargo fleet. KE is very active even in terms of freight operations as you can see from the size of its cargo fleet.

The airline operates 2 aircraft types for its cargo operations. These are Boeing 747 and 777. Specifically in these variants:

  • 4 Boeing 747-400F
  • 7 Boeing 747-8F
  • 12 Boeing 777F

Although not as large in numbers the cargo division is quite an important part of Korean Air’s operations. South Korea is a huge export based economy. The country ships goods to anywhere in the world. There therefore is a huge demand for cargo capacity in and out of the country. That’s why along with the hold cargo KE has a dedicated fleet of cargo planes. If the merger with Asiana does go through there will be some consolidation to take place with the Kumho owned airline’s cargo division.

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