Korean Air A380s in 2023: Routes, Fleet & Retirement Plans

With both Korean Air and Asiana Airlines using Airbus A380, South Korea is one of the two countries in the world to have two airlines operating the type. (The other such country is the United Arab Emirates where both Emirates and Etihad Airways operate the Superjumbo.)

Of the two Korean airlines, Korean Air has the larger A380 fleet. Continue reading to find out what routes the airline uses its A380s on, as well as what its A380 fleet looks like.

Korean Air A380
Korean Air Airbus A380-800.

Korean Air A380 Routes

With the Korean Air A380 fleet size being half of what it was at its peak (see next section), the variety of airports served by the aircraft is extremely limited too. The destinations that Korean Air A380 is scheduled to serve (all out of Seoul Incheon) in 2023 include:

  • Bangkok
  • Los Angeles
  • New York JFK
  • Taipei
Korean Air A380 Routes
Routes the Korean Air A380 will be seen on regularly in 2023. (Map generated using Great Circle Mapper)

That said, none of these destinations will be served year-round.

The airport that will see Korean Air A380 the most in 2023, aside from Seoul Incheon of course, is Los Angeles. On February 1, 2023, the A380 will start operating one of the airline’s two daily rotations, KE17/KE18. Starting on October 28, 2023, the second daily rotation between Seoul and Los Angeles (KE11/KE12) will be upgraded to the A380 as well.

Additionally, Korean Air A380 is scheduled to fly to New York JFK on one of the airline’s two daily rotations (KE81/KE82) until the end of January 2023 when it will be replaced by Boeing 747-8. The equipment swap will be short-lived, however, as the bright blue Superjumbo is scheduled to return back to New York on the same rotation starting from March 26, 2023.

As for the intra-Asia routes, Seoul Incheon – Bangkok is scheduled to be served by Korean Air’s A380 until March 25, 2023. The aircraft appears on one of the airline’s three daily rotations between the two capitals, KE657/KE658. On March 26, 2023, the flight will switch to Boeing 787-9.

The short three-hour route between Seoul and Taipei is scheduled to be served by the A380 from February 1, 2023, until October 28, 2023. The A380 will appear on Korean Air’s sole daily rotation between the two cities, KE185/KE186. The route shows up as being operated by Airbus A330 both before and after the A380 period.

Korean Air A380 Fleet

Between 2011 and 2014, Korean Air received a total of 10 Airbus A380s. That said, it grounded all of them back in 2020 as the COVID-19 pandemic broke out and it hasn’t brought all of the Superjumbos back into service.

As of the time of writing this article, five Korean Air A380s are active:

  • HL7614 (MSN 68, delivered in 2011)
  • HL7621 (MSN 126, delivered in 2013)
  • HL7622 (MSN 128, delivered in 2013)
  • HL7627 (MSN 130, delivered in 2014)
  • HL7628 (MSN 156, delivered in 2014)

Of those, one – HL7622 – flew to Manila on December 22, 2022, where it is likely undergoing maintenance.

Korean Air A380
HL7614 – one of Korean Air’s active A380s.

Korean Air A380 Seat Configuration

All Korean Air A380s are in the same seating configuration – each is equipped with 407 seats in three classes.

The main deck of Korean Air’s A380s is equipped with 313 seats including:

  • 12 in first class (1-2-1 layout)
  • 301 in economy class (3-4-3 layout)

The upper deck is equipped with 94 business (Prestige) class seats in a 2-2-2 layout.

It’s worth noting that Korean Air’s A380 cabins are fairly outdated.

While the first class seats are (as one would expect) large, they lack privacy as they are not equipped with doors and the wall on the aisle side of the seat is relatively low.

In business class, the seats are simple lie-flat seats with limited storage space and privacy. Because of the six-abreast configuration, window seats in business class do not offer direct aisle access. That said, the configuration is relatively nice for people traveling in a pair (assuming they want to communicate during the flight).

Korean Air A380 Retirement Plans

In early 2020, as the impact of COVID-19 started to be apparent, Korean Air grounded all 10 of its A380s. Luckily, as talked about earlier in this article, five of those were brought back into service in 2022. That still leaves another five in storage, though:

  • HL7611 (MSN 35, delivered in 2011)
  • HL7612 (MSN 39, delivered in 2011)
  • HL7613 (MSN 59, delivered in 2011)
  • HL7615 (MSN 75, delivered in 2011)
  • HL7619 (MSN 96, delivered in 2012)

While it remains to be seen whether any of the above aircraft will be brought out of storage at some point, unfortunately, overall, the days of Korean Air A380s are numbered.

In an August 2021 interview with FlightGlobal, Korean Air’s CEO Cho Won-Tae is quoted saying “the A380s will be leaving Korean Air’s fleet within five years, and the Boeing 747-8i fleet will also follow suit within ten years.” As such, if the airline doesn’t change its plans, Korean Air A380s will be retired by the end of 2026 at the latest.

A similar fate awaits Asiana Airlines’ A380s as the two airlines are going through a merger.


While Korean Air has set a clear timeline for retiring its A380s, aviation enthusiasts will be able to enjoy seeing and flying on the aircraft for at least a few more years.

In 2023, the Korean Air Superjumbo will, at one point or another, appear on flights from Seoul to Los Angeles, New York, Bangkok, and even Taipei. Being just three-hours long, the last one is the quickest way to log a Korean Air A380. On the other hand, with two daily A380 flights starting from the end of October 2023, Seoul – Los Angeles is, perhaps, the easiest way to do so.

If you enjoyed this article, you might also want to read my extensive guide on the airlines that operate the A380. If you are a fan of quad jets, make sure to also read up on Korean Air’s 747s.

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