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South Korea gives conditional approval to KAL-Asiana merger

But regulator orders Korean Air to return slots, traffic rights in 40 routes

SEOUL -- South Korea's antitrust watchdog on Tuesday gave conditional approval for the merger of the country's two biggest airlines but expressed concern that their dominance in domestic and international routes would harm competition in the industry. 

Korea Fair Trade Commission Chair Joh Sung-wook said the agency ordered Korean Air Lines to return slots and traffic rights as well as cap fare increases for 40 domestic and international routes after merging with smaller rival Asiana Airlines. The routes include 26 international routes and 14 domestic ones such as Seoul-New York, Seoul-London, Seoul-Beijing and Busan-Nagoya. 

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