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Asiana boosts competitiveness ahead of stake sale

Asiana Airlines said Wednesday it has been bolstering its competitiveness and rolling out cost-cutting measures ahead of selling its controlling 31 percent stake.

With the recovery of passenger traffic on its Chinese routes, Asiana is hoping to see a rebound in its earnings. About 578,000 Chinese tourists visited South Korea in August, increasing to the level before the conflict between Seoul and Beijing on the THAAD missile defense system in 2017.

The carrier has also appointed separate managers covering routes to six different regions in China for effective decision-making and to bolster communication. 

Asiana Airlines adds an A350 passenger jet to its fleet (Asiana Airlines)
Asiana Airlines adds an A350 passenger jet to its fleet (Asiana Airlines)

To minimize the damage from a drop in demand for flights to Japan, Asiana has been adding other shorter routes that could work as alternatives.

It also plans to switch to temporary flights that are popular. It plans to regularize its flights to Mongolia’s capital Ulaanbaatar -- which was launched in July -- Phu Quoc in Vietnam and Kaohsiung, Taiwan, in the winter season.

As a major airline that operates long-distance flights, it has been making efforts to improve profitability on the routes it operates. It will add two new flights to New York in September and provide irregular flights to Lisbon, Melbourne and Cairo in December.

The effort to improve its earnings will be also include upgrading its in-flight services.

For better work-efficiency, Asiana has adopted an automated kiosk system for check-ins and baggage handling. About 69 percent of its passengers have used its automated self check-in system as of September, according to the firm.

To improve its cost structure, Asiana has been successfully switching its aircrafts to models with improved fuel efficiency such as A350 and A321NEO. It has been reorganizing its routes, simplifying its organization structure and upgrading its aircrafts since 2016 in a bid to stabilize its management, the company said.

Its lead manager for the stake sale Credit Suisse will receive bids from potential investors by Thursday afternoon. Industry sources predict two consortia led by cosmetics giant Aekyung Group and construction firm Hyundai Development Co. could be the key competitors.

Kumho Asiana Group, the parent of Asiana Airlines, seeks to sell the stake in the airline held by its subsidiary, Kumho Industrial, along with its six affiliates as part of its broad restructuring efforts.

By Jung Min-kyung (