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Asiana Airlines connects major technology markets

    People watch a news program reporting about Asiana Airlines flight 214 which took off from Seoul and crashed while landing at San Francisco International Airport, at Seoul Railway Station in Seoul, South Korea, Sunday, July 7, 2013. (AP Photo/Ahn Young-joon)

Asiana Airlines was relatively unknown in the United States before today’s crash landing at San Francisco International Airport. But South Korea’s second-largest carrier has been growing steadily over the past 25 years and connects two of the world’s biggest technology markets.

Saturday’s flight was between Seoul and San Francisco. Samsung and LG are based in Seoul. San Francisco is near Silicon Valley and tech powerhouses like Intel and online media companies like Facebook.

With 79 planes, Asiana’s fleet is about half as big as flag carrier Korean Air. And it is small compared to global giants like United Airlines or Air France. But Asiana flies very long flights on some of the world’s largest planes, including the Boeing 747 and the Boeing 777, which was the type of plane that crashed on Saturday.

The airline has also ordered 30 of Airbus’ new A350, and six superjumbo A380s. Those are the two biggest planes Airbus sells.

Some of the world’s fastest-growing airlines are in Asia. Many of them are so-called low-cost-carriers that fly smaller planes on busy but relatively short-haul routes.

Asiana, which was founded in 1988, is more of a traditional airline. It has a mix of small and large planes and flies an assortment of routes. It flies to 12 cities in Korea, and 71 cities in 23 other countries — including five in the United States. According to, the average age of its fleet is 9.3 years — fairly young for an international airline.

Passengers who take its flights from Seoul to San Francisco often connect onto planes flown by United Airlines. Asiana flies to the United hubs of San Francisco, Los Angeles, and Chicago, where Asiana is increasing the number of seats it flies, according to CAPA-Centre for Aviation. Asiana also flies to New York and Seattle.

About 22 percent of its revenue came from U.S. travel during last year’s third quarter, according to CAPA.

The airline has been trying to increase its revenue from business travelers and is aiming to boost the number of corporate contracts from 855 last year to 900 this year, according to CAPA.

Asiana’s first major crash was in 1993, when the pilot took the plane to low on his third attempt to land at an airport about 200 miles southwest of Seoul. The crash killed 66 people on the Boeing 737 and left 44 survivors.

It also lost a cargo 747 in 2011, near the resort island of Jeju. The crash killed the two pilots on board.

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