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Airline Pilots Get Lavish Treatment

Posted July. 06, 2005 00:37,   


The strike of airline pilots, who are commonly known to be well-treated, has become a social issue. They are under criticism that they are an “aristocratic” labor union.

How much are they paid and what kind of benefits are they receiving? Pilots at Korean Air earn at least 75 million won and at best 170 million won annually. A plane captain’s annual average salary is 120 million won, and an assistant captain’s is 88 million won. It takes nine years on average to get promoted to captain after entering the company, and once being a captain, the annual salary starts up from at least 99 million won.

Asiana Airlines pilots get salary ranging from 85 million won minimum to 190 million won at best, which is higher than that of Korean Air’s. This is because the flight hours of pilots at Asiana Airlines are longer than that of Korean Air’s. The labor union of Asiana Airlines is requesting acknowledgement of reserve pilots’ flight hours spent sitting in a general seat during long-distance flights for the purpose of shifting pilots, as Korean Air does.

The airlines have a system guaranteeing pilots two years’ salary and allowance when they get sick and cannot fly. A benefits system that provides them with the total amount of their children’ school expenses is the same as other companies’.

In response to accusations of being an “aristocratic” labor union, a Korean Air union official maintained that having an enough break time is for the safety of passengers, and calling for employment stability and a retirement age extension is justifiable.

Sang-Soo Kim Hyo-Lim Son ssoo@donga.com aryssong@donga.com