Korean Air Chairman Cho Won-tae speaks after receiving the Excellence in Leadership Award from the Air Transport World at Grand Cevahir Hotel in Istanbul on June 2. Photo courtesy of Korean Air

Chairman Cho receiving Excellence in Leadership Award

Korean Air, South Korea’s top flag carrier, announced on June 4 that its Chairman Cho Won-tae, otherwise known as Walter Cho, had won the prestigious Excellence in Leadership Award by Air Transport World (ATW).

Launched in 1974, the ATW Airline Industry Achievement Awards have been regarded as the most covered hours in the airline industry.

To recognize the awardees, the 49th edition of the annual event took place in Istanbul on June 2.

For Korean Air, the prize marks three consecutive years of honor as ATW’s 2021 Airline of the Year and 2022 Cargo Operator of the Year went to the company.

Cho also received other awards, including FlightGlobal’s 2022 Air Cargo Leadership Award and Orient Aviation’s 2021 Person of the Year.

“I appreciate the ATW for this great prize. I hope to share the honor with all the customers and staff members of Korean Air as well as our best partner Delta Air Lines,” Cho said.

Cho’s leadership has been recognized over the past few years as he steered the Seoul-based airline well despite the virus pandemic.

Unlike other airline companies, which suffered unprecedented deficits due to the decline in air traffic demand, Korean Air attained record-high profits both in 2021 and 2022 under Cho’s stewardship.

Cho also headed the bold decision to acquire Korea’s Asiana Airlines, which was the biggest contract in the global aviation industry during the pandemic.

Once the M&A is complete, Korean Air will join the rank of the world’s top 10 airlines.

He also came to the fore in the global scene.

In 2019, Cho was elected as a member of the International Air Transport Association Board of Governors and took charge of the chairmanship of the Skyteam Alliance board in the same year.

Founded in 2000, Skyteam has become one of the world’s three major airline alliances, along with Star Alliance and Oneworld.

It consists of such members as Air Europa, Air France, Delta Air Lines, ITA Airways, and Virgin Atlantic, on top of Korean Air.