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As Summer Travel Season Arrives, Pilots Go on Strike

Posted July. 18, 2005 03:09,   


The pilots’ union at Asiana Airlines, Korea’s second biggest carrier, went on indefinite strike at noon on July 17. With the start of the high-demand summer vacation season, it is expected to cause inconveniences and confusion for travelers and airport management.

The strike resulted in the suspension of some flights on Sunday and the cancellation of 62 out of 168 domestic flights on Monday. International flights will also be affected starting Tuesday.

As the feared disruption of flight schedules is realized, citizens are complaining that pilots are well-paid, but that they are seeking their own profit in exchange for passengers’ comfort by taking advantage of this high-demand season.

Strike with Indefinite Time Limits-

The pilots’ union said, “We decided to launch a strike as the management and failed to reach an agreement on some key issues, including the extension of the retirement age.”

The Union has made some 20 demands of management, including an extension of the retirement age from the current 54 to 58 (and a guarantee of two more years of contract employment), payment for the time they spend moving to other places for flights, and voting rights in the deliberation committee that decides the promotion and punishment of pilots.

Management said, “The negotiations failed because the union kept demanding unacceptable conditions.” The union and the management of the airline resumed talks on Sunday afternoon on revised demands.

Passengers Inconvenienced-

On Sunday, the 3:00 pm flight OZ8705 from Gimpo to Gwangju was suspended and two other flights between the two cities were also cancelled. Asiana notified passengers of this by text messages and phone calls.

However, some 20 passengers who arrived at Gimpo Airport without knowing about the cancellations had to use Korea Airlines’ 2:30 p.m. flight.

Flight OZ315 from Busan to Beijing was delayed because the pilot refused to fly and management had to look for another available pilot.

Management operated some 280 flights on time with 460 pilots that are either non-union members or aliens.

Meanwhile, the pilots’ union of Korea Airlines, the biggest Korean airline, said that the 26 members of strike committee decided to go on strike starting midnight on July 18 until they conclude a deal with management.

Jun-Ho Cha run-juno@donga.com