The new long-haul aircraft was handed over to the Korean national carrier in a ceremony at the Boeing factory. It comes equipped with 368 seats in three cabins – six in first class, 48 in business class and 308 in economy.
“This new aircraft delivers better fuel economy,” said Walter Cho, Korean’s executive vice president & chief marketing officer. “That is important to a global airline such as ours. And it supports our goal to build and operate a first-class fleet of world-class aircraft.”
The delivery marks the continuation of Korean Air’s long-haul fleet renewal and expansion strategy. The airline has already taken delivery of 10 Airbus A380s and recently placed an order for two additional Boeing 777-300ERs. It still has outstanding orders for a further nine B747-8s, 10 B787-9 Dreamliners and 11 more B777s.
With this delivery, Korean Air also becomes only the second airline in the world, after Lufthansa, to operate the two largest passenger aircraft currently in production – the B747-8 and A380.
“Korean Air has been a valued Boeing customer for more than 40 years and we are honoured to celebrate yet another milestone delivery together with their first 747-8 Intercontinental,” said Ray Conner, president & CEO of Boeing Commercial Airplanes.
“As one of the few airlines that have operated almost all models of the 747 family, we are excited that Korean Air is extending the tradition with our newest 747-8 Intercontinental. I am confident that the 747-8 will continue to play an important role in Korean Air’s long-term success.”
The B747-8 has a range of 14,310km, offers 16% savings in terms of fuel consumption and generates 30% less noise than its predecessor, the B747-400.
But despite these attributes, orders for the passenger version of the B747-8 remain sluggish. To date, Boeing has sold only 42 B747-8 Intercontinentals to commercial airlines, including 19 to Lufthansa, 10 to Korean Air, seven to Air China, four to Russia’s Transaero Airlines, and two to Nigeria’s Arik Air.