Korean Air Co., the world's top air cargo career based on 2004 data, is looking for new business partners in the growing Chinese market after protracted talks to take over China's Okay Airways.
South Korea's biggest airline signed last year a preliminary agreement to acquire Okay Airways to target booming air cargo and passenger demand in the world's fastest-expanding major aviation market.
"We have been talking to Okay Airways but some conditions such as investment and recognition of the current stock value, have not been met, so we are searching for other business partners," Lee Jong-hee, president of Korean Air, told reporters, without identifying potential partners.
Lee said Korean Air and Okay Airways were set to meet this month, although the company would not offer a new proposal.
Cargo business in China accounted for 16.4 percent of Korean Air's total cargo business last year, a spokesman of the airline said.
"Chinese (airlines) can handle less than one third of their cargo demand," Lee said.
Okay Airways, based in the northern Chinese city of Tianjin, started flying early last year after subleasing two Boeing 737-900s from Korean Air.
Under Chinese regulations, a foreign company is allowed to buy a stake of up to 25 percent in a Chinese airline, while the combined stakes held by foreign investors are limited to 49 percent.
China has opened the market to allow in private airlines and also to let in foreign investment.