Korean Air is expected to place a major wide body order soon with many expecting the order to replace the fleet of 747s and 777s. The current leading candidate seems to be the 777-9 from comments made on the issue by Chi Won-tae, also kniwn as Walter Cho. While the A350 is being looked at the President is quoted as saying that the 777X would be a “good replacement” for their 777 fleet and there is a “very high possibility” they expand their 787 fleet. His comments on the A350 as an option were “keep an open mind [about] the Airbus A350 as well”.
The 777X would appear to be the clear favorite for replacement with the current fleet of aircraft. In addition, Korean Air wouldnt be in need of an aircraft with more range than what the 777-9 would offer but would prefer a higher MTOW and passenger carrying capacity as is their business model. This would suggest the 777-9 as the clear favorite. With diplomatic economics this would also make further sense as there could be backdoor pressure for South Korean companies to build better relations with US companies to stress the importance of the US-SK alliance. While Walter Cho states that Korean Air would keep an open mind on the A350 it would seem this is just a courtesy and the decision is a lot farther along than he made out in his comments.