Korean Air Lines, South Korea’s largest carrier, says it wants to acquire its smaller domestic rival Asiana Airlines.

In a statement, Korean Air and its parent company Hanjin KAL decided to buy Asiana at board meetings held on Monday.

The deal is valued at 1.8 trillion won (1.6 billion dollars). The move would create the world’s 10th-largest airline measured by fleet size.

Koean Air spoke of “great momentum to restructure the Korean aviation market amid the unprecedented crisis faced by the global aviation industry due to COVID-19.”

Korean Air plans to increase raise 2.5 trillion won’s worth of capital by issuing new shares early next year.
Kim Sang-do, deputy minister for civil aviation, spoke of an “inevitable decision” to integrate the country’s two biggest airlines to prevent them from suffering bigger losses amid the Covid-19 pandemic, the South Korean agency Yonhap reported.

The country’s antitrust regulator still needs to review the deal over the issue of monopoly. If things go smoothly, the deal is expected to be completed later next year.

A planned takeover of Asiana Airlines by a local consortium fell through in September in light of the coronavirus pandemic’s effect on the airline’s financial situation.

The consortium led by the construction company Hyundai Development had planned a 2.4-trillion-won (2-billion-dollar) injection to keep ailing Asiana Airlines afloat.

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