Korean Air may buy stake in Czech Airlines

PHOTO: Korean Air may buy stake in Czech Airlines

SEOUL - Korean Air, the nation's biggest airline, is considering a bid for a stake in Czech Airlines to strengthen its presence in Europe, company officials said Friday.

The carrier plans to reach a final decision after completing due diligence on the Czech Republic's flag carrier later this month, said the officials, who wished to remain anonymous.

This marks the first attempt of a domestic airliner to seek a stake in a foreign counterpart.

If realised, the acquisition of the 44 per cent stake would not include managerial control of Czech Airlines, with state-controlled parent company Czech Aeroholding retaining its position as the largest shareholder.

The benefits that Korean Air could expect from network expansion would include sharing European routes outside its reach and launching joint marketing campaigns, the local airline officials said.

Currently, Korean Air flies to and from 12 destinations in Europe and Russia.

Qatar Airways, the state-owned flag carrier of Qatar, has also reportedly expressed an interest in buying Czech Airlines.

Czech Airlines is a major carrier in Europe that operates 26 aircraft and flies to 62 cities in 41 countries.