Korean Air Co. has decided to retain workers of Asiana Airlines Inc. on condition that Asiana agrees to sell its cargo business to win antitrust approval from European Union regulators for the two carriers' merger, industry sources said Monday.
According to the sources, Korean Air, the larger of South Korea's two full-service airlines, plans to seek approval for the decision to retain Asiana Airlines' workers at a company board meeting scheduled next Monday.
The decision comes as Asiana Airlines, the smaller of the duo, is also set to hold its own board meeting on the same day to decide whether to sell its cargo business.
The EU antitrust regulators have raised concerns that Korean Air's acquisition of Asiana may restrict competition in the markets for passenger and cargo air transport services between the EU and South Korea.
Unionized workers at Asiana Airlines have expressed opposition to such a move to sell off the cargo division, citing concerns of possible layoffs.
Korean Air plans to submit formal remedies to address such concerns to the European Commission, the EU's executive body, by the end of the month.
The two companies' board meetings are expected to be watched closely by stakeholders and EU regulators, as it could potentially make or break the acquisition deal that has been pursued for the past three years.
An EC official involved with the review of the acquisition deal declined to comment on inquiries from Yonhap News Agency, saying "this is an ongoing investigation."
Korean Air has received acquisition approvals from 11 countries, including Britain, Australia, Singapore, Vietnam, Turkey and China, and is awaiting decisions from Japan, the EU and the US.