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Asiana Airlines continues to struggle

Carrier is taking new and more dramatic measures to halt slide

Mar 03,2020
Two weeks after its first emergency plan, Asiana Airlines is trying a second. It involves unpaid leave and deeper salary cuts.

Under the new plan, all Asiana employees will be required to take 10 days of unpaid leave this month. The first contingency measure had called for the 10 days off to be taken in March, April and May. The upshot is that Asiana employees will be losing 33 percent of their wages in March.

Top management has agreed to even deeper cuts. Presidents will forfeit 100 percent of their March salaries, while senior executives will take a 50 percent cut and division leaders 30 percent. In an earlier plan in mid-January, the cuts were 40 percent, 30 percent and 20 percent, respectively.

“Uncertainties are getting higher as countries impose restrictions and travel bans,” the company said.

On Saturday, an Asiana flight from Incheon to Hanoi, Vietnam, was ordered to land at Van Don International Airport, 166 kilometers (103 miles) from Hanoi. Vietnam had introduced the diversion rule after the flight had taken off. The plane returned to Incheon.

As of Monday morning, 28 countries are prohibiting the entry of visitors from Korea, with the exception of their own nationals and permanent residents. A number of others had placed restrictions on people who had recently been in Daegu and nearby areas, while dozens were requiring quarantines of those who had recently been in Korea.

The new coronavirus has dealt a serious blow to Korean carriers - both major airlines and low-cost carriers. On Monday, Korean Air announced that it would be suspending or cutting back scores of flight, including services to Bangkok, Nha Trang in Vietnam, Singapore, Male in the Maldives, Honolulu and Dubai in the UAE.

The virus adds to existing difficulties for airlines, which had already been suffering from a global economic slowdown, the Hong Kong protests and political tensions between Japan and Korea.

Low-cost carriers are also developing their own contingency plans. On Friday, six local budget carriers requested government relief, saying they are in desperate need of long-term, unsecured loans with low interest rates, as well as tax cuts.

“None of our individual measures seem to work, and there’s certainly no way to return to profitability,” the low-cost carriers said in a joint statement.

BY SONG KYOUNG-SON [song.kyoungson@joongang.co.kr]


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