Korean Air is working out details to lease four of its B787s-9s to local competitor, Air Premia, as Korean Air aims to resolve US Department of Justice competition concerns over its planned merger with Asiana Airlines. The US is said to be the biggest hurdle to the merger, which has been dragging on for four years.

Air Premia plans to fly the Dreamliners on routes to the Americas, as the carrier is in need of excess capacity for expansion of its network in the US and for added frequencies on existing routes.

The LCC currently operates flights from Seoul Incheon to New York, Los Angeles, and Honolulu, with San Francisco starting in May 2024. These four routes are also the routes that the US DOJ believes will become a monopoly if Korean and Asiana are allowed to merge.

Two of the leased B787-9s are due to arrive within 2024, while the remaining two will be delivered thereafter.

The deal follows a similar one between Korean Air and T'way Air from June 2023, which included five A330-300s and 100 pilots to appease European Commission concerns. T'way will use the aircraft to launch four European routes, including to Paris, Rome, Barcelona, ​​and Frankfurt, that T'way takes over from Korean. 

Korean Air is expected to fill the capacity void with 24 aircraft pending delivery, including the B787-10.