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(LEAD) Korean Air suspends flights to Washington, D.C. amid virus fallout

National 17:00 April 13, 2020

(ATTN: UPDATES with selection of preferred lead manager for asset sale in paras 7-11)

SEOUL, April 13 (Yonhap) -- Korean Air Lines Co. suspended flights on the Incheon-Washington route Monday due to the impact of the coronavirus.

South Korea's national flag carrier did not provide a time frame when it will lift the temporary suspension.

The move came amid the rising coronavirus death toll and infections in the United States. The COVID-19 pandemic has killed more than 22,100 people in the U.S., including 50 in Washington, D.C.

This file photo shows Korean Air aircraft at Incheon International Airport, west of Seoul. (Yonhap)

This file photo shows Korean Air aircraft at Incheon International Airport, west of Seoul. (Yonhap)

Currently, Korean Air flies from Incheon to only five U.S. cities -- Los Angeles, New York, San Francisco, Chicago and Atlanta.

Korean Air's other international flights are to Paris, London, Bangkok, Manila, Phnom Penh, Ho Chi Minh City, Tokyo and Shenyang.

Korean Air has suspended more than 90 percent of its flights on international routes as an increasing number of countries close their borders or take further measures against incoming passengers.

Also on Monday, Korean Air's parent Hanjin Group said that it has selected a local consortium as a preferred lead manager for the sale of its non-core assets.

KPMG Samjong Accounting Corp. and Samsung Securities formed a consortium to try to win the advisory role for the sale of Hanjin Group's non-core assets that include 36,700 square meters of land in central Seoul and Paradise Hotel on South Korea's southern resort island of Jeju.

In February, Hanjin Group's holding company, Hanjin KAL Corp., announced its plan to sell low-profit, non-core assets to focus on the mainstay airline and logistics business and enhance shareholder value.

For the whole of 2019, Korean Air's net losses widened to 624.87 billion won (US$513.74 million) from 185.65 billion won a year earlier.

Worse still, the national flag carrier expects the spreading coronavirus outbreak will deal a further blow to its earnings in the first half of 2020 if the disease continues to spread.

South Korean airlines have been struggling with a sharp decline in air travel demand since Jan. 20, when South Korea reported its first case of the coronavirus.

In South Korea, the coronavirus has killed 217 people, mostly elderly patients with underlying illnesses. So far, the country has reported a total of 10,537 infected people.


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