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Asiana Airlines a growing presence in the U.S.

Updated: July 6, 2013 6:19PM



Asiana Airlines was relatively unknown in the United States before Saturday’s crash landing at San Francisco International Airport, but South Korea’s second-largest carrier has been growing steadily over the past 25 years and connects two of the world’s biggest technology markets.

With 79 planes, Asiana’s fleet is about half as big as flag carrier Korean Air. And it’s small compared to global giants like United Airlines or Air France. But Asiana flies very long flights on some of the world’s largest planes, including the Boeing 747 and the Boeing 777, which was the type of plane that crashed on Saturday.

The $875.5 billion airline also has ordered 30 of Airbus’ new A350 and six superjumbo A380s — the two biggest planes Airbus sells.

Asiana, founded in 1988, is a traditional, not low-fare, airline. It has a mix of small and large planes and flies an assortment of routes. It flies to 12 cities in Korea and 71 cities in 23 other countries — including five in the United States. According to Airfleets.net, the average age of its fleet is 9.3 years — fairly young for an international airline.

Passengers who take its flights from Seoul to San Francisco often connect onto planes flown by United Airlines. Asiana flies to the United hubs of Chicago, Los Angeles and San Francisco. Asiana also flies to New York and Seattle.

About 22 percent of its revenue came from U.S. travel during last year’s third quarter.

The airline has been trying to increase its revenue from business travelers and is aiming to boost the number of corporate contracts from 855 last year to 900 this year.

Asiana’s first major crash was in 1993, when the pilot took the plane to low on his third attempt to land at an airport about 200 miles southwest of Seoul. The crash killed 66 people on the Boeing 737 and left 44 survivors.

It also lost a cargo 747 in 2011, near the resort island of Jeju. The crash killed the two pilots on board.

Before Saturday’s crash in San Francisco, the Federal Aviation Administration investigated two accidents involving Asiana within weeks of one another in November 1998.

In the first, on Nov. 11, 1998, an Asiana plane with 220 passengers and 18 crew aboard skidded into a parked plane after landing at Anchorage International Airport in Alaska. Federal investigators blamed the pilot for excessive taxi speed and inadequate maneuvering to avoid the parked plane.

On Nov. 30, 1998, an Asiana cargo plane struck and toppled a crane in the safety zone next to the taxiway after it landed at John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York. The FAA faulted the co-pilot for misjudging the wing’s clearance.



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