According to Kim Chang-Woo of the JooAng Daily, Korean airline passengers are finding themselves happily caught in the crossfire of a lucrative airline battle.
The nation’s two domestic carriers — Asiana and Korean Air — have taken to forming strategic partnerships outside their borders in an effort to dominate the domestic market.
Korean Air has allied itself with the SkyTeam Alliance — the five-member partnership centered around Delta Air Lines. Asiana has cast its lot with the Star Alliance — a 16-member group that includes such industry stalwarts as United and Lufthansa.
Korean customers are finding that mileage awards and lounge access are becoming more accessible as the two grind out their consumer-capturing battle.
Curiously, the airlines’ membership in airline alliances, while valuable to the customer in terms of a greater variety of destinations, has not necessarily proven to be lucrative to the airlines themselves. The U.S. Department of Transportation has estimated that transatlantic alliances may actually reduce fares by 17 percent.
Still, there is no hesitation to sign up, and flaunt it.
When Asiana was officially welcomed into The Star Alliance in March, Korean Air immediately countered. “Team is better than Star” proclaimed advertisements in the national media.
And despite the DOT’s statistics to the contrary, both airlines vigorously back their alliance decision.
“We will increase annual sales by 43 billion won by taking advantage of joint bookings and marketing,” one Asiana executive told Kim.
Korean Air suggests that its SkyTeam alliance increased its revenue by 50 billion.