Korean Air (KE, Seoul Incheon) has ferried one of its ten B747-8s to Hamburg Helmut Schmidt for conversion into a VIP transport ahead of a planned five-year lease to the Korea Air Force (Seoul Gimpo).

HL7643 (msn 60410), a 3.8-year-old quadjet that has been almost completely out of revenue service since early March 2020, was ferried direct from Seoul Incheon to Hamburg on March 1, Flightradar24 ADS-B data shows.

Under the five-year contract signed in May 2020, the Korean Ministry of Defence said the aircraft would be used as primarily for presidential and VIP flights from November 2021 onwards. Korean Air was the only bidder for the contract which is worth KRW30 billion won (USD26.6 million).

According to the ch-aviation fleets advanced module, the Korea Air Force currently uses B747-400 10001 (msn 26412) as its presidential aircraft. The 19.5-year-old Boeing jet was delivered to Korean Air in 2001 and transferred to the Air Force in 2010, the ch-aviation fleets history module indicates. South Korea's short-haul VIP fleet comprises a single B737-300 and four B737-700(BBJ)s.

Following its redelivery, the Korea Air Force will join the Kuwait Air Force (operated by Kuwait Airways), Oman Royal Flight, Qatar Amiri Flight, Force Aérienne Royale Marocaine (operated by Royal Air Maroc), Saudi Arabian Royal Flight, Brunei's Sultan's Flight, and Turkish Airlines General Aviation in using the B747-8 as a VIP jet.

The remaining nine B747-8s owned and operated by Korean Air are currently in storage. The airline's passenger quadjet fleet also includes ten A380-800s, of which just one is currently active, operating infrequently between Seoul Incheon and Guangzhou.