Korean Air CEO wins leadership award

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Korean Air's Walter Cho.
Korean Air's Walter Cho.

SeoulWalter Cho, Korean Air chairman and CEO, has been awarded the prestigious Excellence in Leadership Award by Air Transport World (ATW). Launched in 1974, the ATW Airline Industry Achievement Awards are some of the most coveted honors an airline or individual can receive. This year’s 49th awards ceremony will be held in Istanbul on 2 June.

“Since taking the helm at Korean Air in 2019, Walter Cho has rapidly gained a worldwide reputation for industry vision and dynamic management. His nimble and out-the-box thinking, particularly with regard to airline partnerships—especially the transpacific joint venture with Delta Air Lines—and the company’s cargo business, made Korean stronger than ever through the worst times of the pandemic. As chair of the SkyTeam global alliance board and a member of the IATA board of governors, Cho has emerged as an excellent leader at Korean and across the industry,” said Air Transport World.

Cho’s leadership and crisis management have been widely recognised over the course of the pandemic, as he successfully navigated the COVID-19 crisis and led the airline to attain record high profits both in 2021 and 2022. Amid many uncertainties during COVID-19, Cho made the bold and historic decision to acquire Asiana Airlines, the biggest deal in the global aviation industry during the pandemic. Once the acquisition is complete, Korean Air will become one of the world’s top 10 airlines.

“The unprecedented pandemic crisis has proven the importance of connectivity, our industry’s core value. The entire Korean Air team, along with our partners, combined our efforts to maintain connectivity for both passengers and cargo, even when strict border controls were in place. I genuinely appreciate ATW’s recognition of our efforts and am humbled to receive the award on behalf of everyone at Korean Air. I trust the year 2023 will be dynamic and exciting for all of us, and Korean Air will adapt to changes and provide reliable services to our customers and partners, and keep evolving,” said Cho.

Korean Air was recognised for the past two years as ATW’s 2021 Airline of the Year and 2022 Cargo Operator of the Year. Cho has also received numerous awards for his outstanding leadership such as FlightGlobal’s 2022 Air Cargo Leadership Award and Orient Aviation’s 2021 Person of the Year.


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