Posted July. 20, 2005 03:14,
Three days into a strike staged by the pilot union of Asiana Airlines, disruptions are expanding including suspension of exports of electronic products.
Asiana Airlines announced on the same day that international service will not be disrupted. But there is concern about additional disruptions and reduced confidence in the carrier if the strike lasts for a long time as the company also said that cargo flights will be suspended.
However, labor and management failed to return to the negotiating table this day.
Amid tense confrontation between labor and management, passengers scheduled to fly for vacations looked frustrated while trying to find an alternative flight.
Yoon Byeong-In, Asiana Airlines vice president in charge of safety, held a press conference at Gimpo Airport on July 19. He said, All international flights, 110 to 117 flights daily, will run this week as scheduled, although the schedules of some flights could be changed inevitably. But he added that cargo flights could not help but be suspended.
In fact, all international cargo flights delivering exports were cancelled this day. Among them were all three international flights bound for the U.S. and Hong Kong, with 230 tons of LCD, mobile handsets, and semiconductors.
Asiana Airlines estimates that the strike, if protracted, would cost the company 16 billion won a week and 70 billion won a month. Businesses depending on the airline for exports are expected to lose 170 billion won a day.
Out of 163 domestic flights, only 85 flights including 79 Gimpo-Jeju, one Gimpo-Busan, three Incheon-Busan, and two Gimpo-Ulsan flights were operated. As a result, people had difficulty in getting seats for flights to Gwangju and Ulsan.
Flight OZ601 bound for Sydney from Incheon was the first international flight to be cancelled. Some 120 people who booked this passage suffered inconvenience and had to take an alternative flight via Tokyo, Japan.
In the mean time, Asiana Airlines said on July 19 that 80 domestic flights out of 169 will be cancelled, but all flights bound for Jeju, a Gimpo-Busan, two Incheon-Busan, and an Incheon-Jeju flight will run on July 20. This means four more domestic flights than the previous day.
Complaints of Passengers-
Asiana Airlines was flooded with calls asking about schedule change. Many passengers awaiting international flights at Incheon International Airport seemed worried that flights back to Incheon would not be available as the international flight was cancelled for the first time this day, a sign of a potential aviation crisis.
Lee Young-tae (38) said that he was worried that he might not fly back to Korea if the walkout goes on for a long time, as he was scheduled to leave for Thailand on the day and return on an Asiana flight on Sunday.
Those who did not receive the text message informing of the cancellation expressed their anger. Yoon (42), a Korean residing in Chile, was scheduled to leave for Australia in the evening of this day. He said in an angry voice that when asked on July 17, they said it would fly as scheduled, but on July 18, they said the flight was cancelled. He added, I did not get contacted because I dont have a cell phone right now in Korea.
Passengers at Gimpo Airport also expressed complaints. All domestic flights except flights to Jeju were stopped at the airport. Travel agencies entered into emergency and continue to pay attention to the possibility of a protracted strike.