[EDITORIALS]Reverse Air Safety Bungling

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[EDITORIALS]Reverse Air Safety Bungling

The damage to Korean airlines turned severe after the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration made official its decision to label South Korea carriers as "Category II." The financial loss of the two domestic carriers is expected to be more than 200 billion won ($154 million), as U.S. based airlines are suspending code-sharing ties on U.S. routes with Korea's two airlines.

Domestic carriers will have to cut their workforce and have their passengers face inconvenience of changing reservations. In addition to an economic loss, the humiliation felt by Koreans from this decision is enormous.

The problem resulted from a careless and indolent transport administration. The troubles were already mentioned a year ago, but no measures were taken to fix them. This is well illustrated by the fact that the same officials who were not aware of the seriousness of this issue only hastened to confront it after they came back from an official trip to the United States in August. The government officials neglected to settle the revised version of the Aviation Act after they submitted it belatedly to the National Assembly on July 19. The Minister of Construction and Transportation, Oh Jang-seop, started to request a ruling and the opposition party members involved with the passing of the revised Aviation Act in the National Assembly only a few days before the FAA's report to downgrade South Korea's air safety rating.

Many people agree that the main causes of the downgrading of South Korea's air safety - the revision of the Aviation Act and specialist training - would not have happened if officials were on the ball. In other words, if it were not for the slow going of the government officials the downgrading could have been prevented beforehand. Therefore the Ministry of Construction and Transportation cannot escape taking responsibility and Minister Oh Jang-seop stands at the center of that responsibility. Mr. Oh cannot escape criticism, although he was appointed in March while the origin of the incident can be traced to last year. Mr. Oh should decided on his own to withdraw from his position, so that a new team that will concentrate on upgrading Korean air safety to Category I before the year is out.
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