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South Korean Watchdog OKs Korean Air-Asiana Tie-Up With Conditions

 |  February 22, 2022

South Korea’s antitrust regulator said it has decided to conditionally approve a deal by Korean Air Lines, the country’s biggest carrier, to buy the debt-ridden Asiana Airlines, reported Yonhap News.

The Fair Trade Commission (KFTC)’s decision does not complete Korean Air’s proposed takeover of the country’s No. 2 carrier as antitrust regulators in major countries, including the United States, are still reviewing the deal.

Since January last year, the KFTC has been reviewing Korean Air’s deal to buy a 63.88 percent stake in Asiana Airlines. The deal, valued at some 1.8 trillion won (US$1.5 billion), was inked in November 2020.

The regulator said it has decided to give conditional approval to the deal as it determined the combination of the two airlines could hamper competition on a significant number of flight routes.

Related: Watchdog To Review Korean Air, Asiana Airlines Merger Approval

The KFTC said the two carriers’ merger could hurt competition on 26 international and 14 domestic routes among the 87 overlapping routes that they’ve been operating.

As conditions for the approval designed to ease monopoly concerns, the KFTC requested the two full-service carriers return some take-off or landing slots at airports and readjust flight licenses in 26 international and eight domestic routes over the next 10 years if other airlines seek to operate on those routes.

The regulator also said the two airlines will be restricted from hiking flight fares and banned from reducing the number of flight seats or the supply of services until they implement the corrective measures.

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