- Top-tier private equity funds in Korea announce their intention to invest in Series B since the risk of delay in license process seems to be diminished
- The company has resubmitted its Air Carrier License (ACL) application to Ministry of Land Infrastructure and Transport (MOLIT) on November 2 and is expected to hear the result in the first quarter of 2019
Air PREMIA, South Korea’s first hybrid carrier focused on medium and long-haul routes has received KRW 125 billion (USD 111 million) sized investment intentions for its Series B financing round from large private equites where mostly have KRW 2 trillion (USD 2 billion) assets under management (AUM): SkyLake Investment, IMM Investment, JKL Partners, Mirae Asset Venture Investment, and Daishin Private Equity. The final size of a Series B round will be determined shortly after optimizing the capital structure for existing investors and other financial institutions willing to participate in the financing round.
“Air PREMIA has a great innovative and sound business model,” said Byung-Gun Park, a CEO of Daishin Private Equity. “Air PREMIA targets the blue ocean with its significant differentiated business model from Low-Cost-Carrier (LCC) since it enters a medium and long-haul market where does not have relatively enough supply averting direct competition with other Low-Cost-Carriers and introduces a reasonably priced Premium Economy class for customers who seek high price-performance-ratio.”
“Air PREMIA attracts investors as it pursues innovation in an airline field where can be categorized as heavy industry. They have full potential to grow,” an investor of SkyLake Investment explained for their intention of investments.
Not only investors of Series A round but also potential investors of Series B round greatly valued Air PREMIA’s innovative business model and its executing skills. Large investors could confirm their plan for future investments as the government has changed the attitude lessening the delay risk of Air Carrier License (ACL) process.
The uncertainty worrying about the licensing process might be extended beyond the limit has been the top of investors' concern lists. However, the risk has been significantly decreased since Ministry of Land Infrastructure and Transport (MOLIT) announced its license review plan and the prime minister commented on ACL process that the government should not define the industry as an overheated market. MOLIT is expected to publicize the decision on ACL before the first quarter of 2019.
Air PREMIA has a unique business model claiming themselves as a Hybrid-Service-Carrier providing customer-focused service, spacious legroom, free snacks, and delightful in-flight entertainment options at a lower price than Full-Service-Carriers (FSC) in Korea. Air PREMIA follows LCC operation model – single fleet and seat configuration, point-to-point routes system – but offers low-density seat configuration and premium service to attract more customers.
This industry-disrupting airline offers two-class configurations; Premium Economy (PE) class brings 42 inches pitch with business class level services such as priority check-in, boarding, and baggage handling; Economy seat pitch will be 35 inches, the widest economy seats in the class. The ticket price of economy seats of Air PREMIA is set to 80 ~ 90% of FSC’s economy class, and Premium Economy ticket price is set to 140% of FSC’s economy class.
Most of the routes are strategically comprised of more than six hours flights – North America, Europe, Oceania – and targeted primarily to high-demand destinations where yet undeveloped by two incumbents in Korea. Air PREMIA follows a single fleet configuration strategy introducing the latest model of wide-body aircraft with 300 seats, such as Boeing 787-9 or Airbus A330 neo.
To date, Air PREMIA has secured KRW 37 billion (USD 33 million), which doubles the standard of government’s requirement. The investors are as follows: Founding members, Mr. Sung Bum Hong, a founder of Hugel, Mr. Dok soo Jang, a chairman of DS Asset Management, the Korean American Chamber of Commerce of Los Angeles, Fast Investment, Capstone Asset Management, Yuanta Investment, and Winvest Venture Investment.
Air PREMIA resubmitted its ACL application to MOLIT on November 2, 2018, since the government has required all proposed airlines to resubmit their applications simultaneously following the revision of Aviation Business Act that MOLIT had publicized on October 31, 2018. Air PREMIA expects to secure KRW 130 billion to 150 billion via Series B funding before the inauguration which is estimated in September 2020.