Asiana Ready for New Takeoff
Asiana Airlines is gearing up for a new stage of flights following the success of the first one over the last two decades.
The carrier declared a new start at the ceremony celebrating the 20th anniversary of its foundation at its headquarters in western Seoul last Friday.
Under the slogan of ``New Takeoff 2008,'' Asiana plans to adopt seven passenger jets this year, operating a fleet of 72 aircraft.
It will also upgrade the cabin facility on 15 flights, including its audio and video on demand (AVOD) system, as well as adopt new tableware, which the carrier began to introduce last year, on all international flights by April.
Asiana will also expand operations on long-haul routes ― it plans to open new routes to the United States and Canada, and increase the operation between Incheon and Los Angeles from the current 12 per week to 14 in June, and that between Incheon and New York from the current four to seven in August.
Along with the new operation to Paris starting March, the airline will also secure the three main gateways to Europe ― London, Frankfurt and Paris. It also plans to open a route to one of Eastern European cities, such as Warszawa or Budapest.
For short-haul routes, it will put new aircrafts on major destinations including Tokyo, Osaka, Beijing and Shanghai, for the growing number of business travelers to the cities.
The carrier's domestic operation is likely to take up a new strategy, following its recent investment in a low cost carrier, Busan International Air, which aims to launch operations within the year.
``This year, we need to take big steps to become a company that can last for 500 years. We'll try to achieve more than 4 trillion won in sales, go into the black for the fifth consecutive year, and continue to pay dividends for the third consecutive year,'' Kang Joo-an, president of the airline, said.
``Asiana was selected as a five-star airline for two consecutive years by Skytrax, but holding the title is more difficult than being listed. So, we need to keep developing high-quality, unique services and ensure utmost safety,'' he said.
History of Asiana
Asiana, which started their business with 5 billion won in capital, 58 pilots, 104 cabin crew, and 105 engineers on Feb. 17, 1988, flew its first flight on the Seoul-Busan route on Dec. 23 after adopting a B737 jet.
It launched the first international operation on the Seoul-Tokyo route in January 1990.
The carrier now has 875.9 billion won in capital, 8,202 employees, and 65 aircrafts, operating passenger jets to 12 domestic cities, 65 cities in 17 countries, and cargo flights to 25 cities in 16 countries.
The number of passengers it carried also skyrocketed from 1.9 million in 1989 to 13.9 million in 2007.
Together with UNICEF, in 1994 Asiana started collecting foreign change that passengers had left over after their trips. The total amount surpassed 3 billion won in 2006.
In 1995, Asiana became the first carrier in the world that banned smoking in all routes. It was listed in KOSDAQ in 1999, joined Star Alliance in 2003, and contracted capital tie-up with All Nippon Airways in 2007.