Big Planes, Big Plans
Korean Airlines vice president of marketing for the Americas John Jackson talks the A380, Incheon connections and customer focus
BT: What’s Korean Airlines’ strategy behind ramping up routes using the Airbus A380? With the addition of Atlanta-Seoul last month, you’re up to three destinations now in North America.
Jackson: Really, Atlanta wasn’t a capacity question as much as it was, we just wanted to put the best possible product in that market that’s always been strong for us, particularly with the business traveler.
BT: Some carriers say they’re using the A380 as a way to boost capacity without adding frequencies.
Jackson: The approach we’ve always taken with that aircraft is that it is truly a highquality luxury product. Our seat configuration only totals 407. I think the average for all the carriers flying the A380 is 525, 530 passengers. So imagine taking a small 737 worth of passengers off of the plane, and using the same space for the configuration that we’ve got. It’s pretty impressive. BT: What are you doing with all that space?
Jackson: We have the whole upper deck dedicated to business class – 94 seats that are in a 2-2-2 configuration. At the front of the cabin we’ve got a self-service bar, and at the rear of the cabin we’ve got a full-service bar. Then we’ve got 12 first class on the bottom – also with its own private self-service bar – and then we’ve got 301 economy class seats that have a pitch of 34 inches. And in the back of the plane we’ve got the world’s only on-board duty free showcase.
BT: In addition to North America, you’ve recently added Myanmar, Cambodia, Colombo and Malé. What other new services do you have coming online?
Jackson: One thing that we’ve been saying a lot about is the connections that we’ve got to Singapore. Our gateways in Dallas, Chicago, Atlanta, Washington, NewYork and Toronto have great connections in both directions to and from Singapore. A lot of the new routes that we’ve been adding have been intra-Asia, regional routes. We are going to be adding a couple of new destinations in Vietnam. And then probably in the next few months you’ll be hearing more about some future plans in the Americas as well.
BT: As Korean Air’s network expands, Incheon International Airport is still your primary hub. What do you think makes this such a good connecting point?
Jackson: If you’re looking at travel from North America to anywhere in Asia, if there’s not a non-stop flight, the best place to connect is Incheon. We’re talking about 45-minute international-international connections, which people have a hard time believing, but it works very well. It’s really made for connections.
BT: With so many long-haul arrivals, what special services are you putting in place for connecting passengers?
Jackson: We’ve developed a shower and refreshing service. We own the Incheon Hyatt which is right across from the terminal and we allow first and business class passengers access to the spa there. It’s a 5 minute ride to and from, so it’s really convenient. BT: You’re updating your fleet. Besides the A380, are Dreamliners part of the plan?
Jackson: Yes, we had changed our order from the Dash-8 to the Dash-9, and we’ll be getting that in 2016 or so. And we’re still adding Triple-Sevens as well.
BT: As these new aircraft come online, what can you tell us about the future vision for Korean Airlines?
Jackson: Stay tuned. We’re going to be doing some exciting things in 2014.