Asian carrier Korean Air has become only the third scheduled passenger airline to take delivery of the Boeing 747-8 Intercontinental, the stretched version of the 747-400 it already operates. The aircraft was handed over to the SkyTeam alliance member last week and will be joined by additional examples before the year-end for the type to be introduced on routes from its Incheon International Airport hub to Frankfurt, Singapore and San Francisco.
With this delivery, Korean Air becomes the first airline in the world to operate both the passenger and freighter versions of the 747-8. Korean Air currently operates seven 747-8 Freighters and has a total of ten passenger configured aircraft on order. The type is already in service with both Lufthansa and Air China.
"This new aircraft delivers better fuel economy," said Walter Cho, executive vice president and chief marketing officer, Korean Air. "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."
With a range of 7,730 nautical miles (14,310 km), the 747-8 Intercontinental offers 16 per cent savings in fuel consumption and emissions over its predecessor, the 747-400, while generating 30 per cent less noise. In Korean Air's service it is configured with 368 seats including a the brand new First Class cabin featuring the Kosmo Suite 2.0, which includes a sliding door and higher partitions to provide added privacy for its premium passengers.
Korean Air has been a long-time Boeing customer and one of only a handful of airlines to have operated almost all models of the 747 family. The carrier currently operates a fleet of 87 Boeing passenger airplanes that includes 737, 747 and 777s. The airline also operates an all-Boeing cargo fleet of 28 747-400, 747-8 and 777 Freighters.
The South Korean flag carrier had initially scheduled London Heathrow to be its debut route for the new aircraft. However, after initially substituting the 777-300ERs that currently serve its KE907/908 rotation with the new Jumbo Jet, initially from August 2, 2015 and latterly from September 2, 2015, the airline decided in mid-June to switch the 747-8I to the German market instead.
The type is debuting from this month on the Incheon – Frankfurt route with a three times weekly rotation on the KE905/906 flight from September 2, 2015, replacing a 777-300ER. This will increase to a daily deployment from October 1, 2015.
Alongside the long-haul route to Europe, Korean Air will also introduce the 747-8I on the shorter sector link between Incheon and Singapore from September 7, 2015 through to October 23, 2015. The type will substitute a 777-300ER on three flights per week on the KE643/644 rotation, while the smaller twin-engined 777 will operate the four other weekly rotations.
Shortly after the 747-8I is removed from the Singapore schedule, the type will be introduced on the transpacific route between Incheon and San Francisco from November 1, 2015. Like the Frankfurt route the type will initially substitute for the 777-300ER on four of its seven weekly flights but will increase to a daily schedule from December 4, 2015.
Here's Korean Air’s proposed 747-8I introductory schedule as extracted from OAG Schedules Analyser on the morning of September 1, 2015...