South Korean carriers Air Premia (YP, Seoul Incheon) and t'way Air (TW, Daegu) reportedly want to join Star Alliance to fill a gap created by the expected exit of Asiana Airlines (OZ, Seoul Incheon) after it merges with Korean Air (KE, Seoul Incheon), a Skyteam member.

The Korean-language Asian Economy outlet reports that both airlines have begun laying the groundwork to join the alliance, which requires member carriers to meet certain safety, operational, fleet, and network requirements, in addition to having full IATA membership and a functional frequent flyer programme. Currently neither airline can meet the full suite of requirements.

Air Premia operates a fleet of five B787-9s to nine airports in seven countries. Initially styling itself as a mid-market hybrid carrier, it has been showing signs of segueing into a full-service carrier, including revamping its inflight WiFi service on North American flights, joining the TSA's PreCheck scheme, and introducing upgraded amenity kits. It is also increasing the number of aircraft it operates; it expects to induct another two B787-9s this year plus take a further four from Korean Air to ramp up its United States flights and increase competition on the country pair - part of a series of pre-emptive concessions Korean Air made in a bid to win merger approval from US antitrust authorities. Air Premia hopes to have around 20 aircraft in the air by the decade's end.

With its fleet of 31 aircraft - three A330-300s, two B737-8s, and twenty-six B737-800s - t'way Air flies to 41 airports in 16 countries and strictly adheres to a low-cost operating model. While Air Premia intends to pick up some of Korean Air's US services post-merger, t'way expects to soon begin flying to four European Union airports using Korean Air-supplied A330-200s and crews as part of a deal struck to win merger approval from European Commission antitrust authorities.

Asian Economy notes that while Air Premia has the required frequent flyer scheme, it does not possess IATA membership, while t'way Air does have IATA membership but does not have a loyalty programme. Both carriers are also in a state of capital erosion, whereby accumulated deficits and debts deplete retained earnings and capital. However, both have also begun reporting quarterly operating profits as the North Asian market belatedly climbs out of its pandemic slump.

Including Asiana, Star Alliance has 26 member airlines. According to ch-aviation capacities data, excluding Asiana, 13 of those member airlines provide scheduled passenger services to South Korea, nemely Air China, Singapore Airlines, Thai Airways International, EVA Air, Air Canada, Lufthansa, ANA - All Nippon Airways, Turkish Airlines, United Airlines, Ethiopian Airlines, LOT Polish Airlines, Shenzhen Airlines, and Air India. They provided a combined 618,711 seats per week in and out of the country, with 77.3% of those seats on Asiana metal. The next-biggest Star Alliance operator is Air China with a 5.45% market share, followed by Singapore Airlines (3.1%), Thai Airways (2.26%), and EVA Air (1.79%).