Nov. 16 (UPI) -- Hanjin Group, the parent company of Korean Air Lines, announced Monday it will buy Asiana Airlines for $1.6 billion and combine to form one of the world's 10 largest carriers.
Hanjin said the merger is the result of strain on the airline industry brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic. The move is expected to streamline services and consolidate slots at Seoul's Incheon International Airport.
Hanjin hopes the combination of South Korea's two largest airlines will lead to growth in the domestic aviation industry.
Asiana, founded in 1988, flew to more than 60 cities in 21 countries prior to the pandemic. Korean Air serves 121 cities in 43 nations.
"Korean Air decided to acquire Asiana Airlines after much consideration and deliberation in order to pursue its founding mission to contribute to the nation through transportation," Hanjin said in a statement.
"Following its mission, the carrier will ensure job security for employees at both airlines as well as relevant industries and support the development of Korea's aviation industry."
The addition will make Korean Air one of the world's 10 largest carriers by fleet size, Hanjin said.
"Korean Air's acquisition and the expansion of its routes, fleet and capacity will give the airline the competitiveness to compete with global mega airlines," the company added.
Asiana was involved in a crash at San Francisco International Airport in 2013 that killed three passengers. The pilot of the Boeing 777 had landed short of the runway, investigators concluded.