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KAL pilots walk out: Government threatens stern action

Posted October. 22, 2000 19:05,   


For the first time in commercial aviation history, Korea is facing a walkout by commercial airline pilots.

With the breakdown of the intense negotiations that started on Saturday and lasted into the morning hours of Sunday, the Korean Air Pilot Labor Union declared a full walkout from 6 a.m. The strike has caused great inconvenience at airports throughout the nation as people faced cancellations of their flights.

However, with a compromise imminent, flight schedules will return to normal on Oct. 23. Due to the walkout, of the 384 (21 cargo) flights scheduled for Sunday, KAL was able to place non-Korean or non-union pilots in the cockpits for 12 flights to Cheju Island and 7 short international flights to China, Japan and Hong Kong. Of the 39 flights that were scheduled to arrive in Kimpo from abroad, only 6 arrived as scheduled.

Of the many scheduled flyers, a great number of newlyweds heading for their honeymoons and tourists came to the airport with no prior knowledge of the walkout and were devastated to find their flights cancelled. Passengers were forced to search for seats on other airlines after being refunded.

KAL revealed that the one-day walkout amounted to 20 billion won in lost income. Meanwhile, ongoing negotiations between management and the pilots' union appear set to produce a compromise.

The union met with KAL representatives at the KAL building in Seosomun, Chung-ku, Seoul and reached a last-minute deal over the contentious call for a raise of the pilots' flight-hour pay rate to 12,000 won.

The pilots' union agreed to a limit of 75 flight hours per month, which is in line with the flight limitations placed on foreign pilots. As KAL has agreed to the raise in flight-hour pay rates, the union also agreed to have the pilots return to work as its ratification process gets underway.