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Korean Air, Asiana fight for China routes

Publication Date : 10-06-2014


South Korea's two top airlines - Korean Air and Asiana Airlines - appeared to be fighting tooth-and-nail for the better hand in lucrative routes to China, even bickering over the government’s recent allocation plans.

Last week, Korean Air expressed regret over the assignment of the air routes to China, arguing that the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport was offering equivalent routes to Asiana, an airline that saw a “series of severe accidents” in recent years.

The US National Transportation Safety Board is investigating the Asiana Airlines Flight 214 crash in San Francisco last year that killed three passengers and injured many others. In 2011, an Asiana cargo plane crashed in waters off Jejudo Island, killing both pilots.

“The aviation authorities failed to issue Asiana with penalties despite an array of accidents,” Korean Air said in an official statement.

Conflict is growing fierce as the high number of Chinese tourists visiting Korea have turned the China routes into one of the biggest factors for Korean airliners’ business performance.

“It would be great to see the government reflecting airlines’ safety management system on its policies in the future,” a Korean Air official told The Korea Herald on Monday. The company declined to further comment on the issue.

The government said it had already explained in detail the rationale behind its decision, and that it had nothing more to say.

On May 30, the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport announced new route distribution plans for eight domestic carriers that fly to China.

Overall, Korean Air received more routes and flights but the company pointed out that there was no real distinction from Asiana’s routes.

Of the 17 new routes, Korean Air was granted three, including the Seoul-Hefei route, with 10 weekly services. Asiana, on the other hand, was allocated the Seoul-Yancheng route with three weekly services.

For the existing Seoul-Guangzhou route, known as the “Golden route,” Asiana will have four additional flights per week while Korean Air get another three.

Korean Air was barred from distribution of traffic rights for 18 months from 1999 after one of its passenger planes crashed into a hill in Guam in 1997.


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