Asiana to get weeklong ban for safety violation

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Asiana to get weeklong ban for safety violation

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Asiana Airlines’ B767, which flies from Incheon to Saipan. Provided by the company

Asiana Airlines, the nation’s second-largest flag carrier, will be banned from operating its Incheon-Saipan flight for seven days after violating safety regulations in April.

The Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport said that it confirmed the penalty on Tuesday and notified Asiana on Wednesday. The ministry hasn’t said when the suspension will be carried out, but it is expected to decide by June 26.

Asiana, which tarnished its image in a fatal accident in San Francisco last year, said that it has no intention to appeal but was disappointed by the result.

The airline was found guilty of flying an aircraft from Incheon to Saipan on April 19, despite an engine oil-filter warning message that appeared after takeoff. The aircraft landed safely in Saipan after the four-hour flight.

This is the first time that a local air carrier has been given a flight suspension without having an accident. Industry insiders said that the ministry’s decision was prompted by the recent atmosphere in society that puts safety as the top priority following the Sewol ferry tragedy.

The company was also penalized for filing a false report to the ministry saying that it kept flying the aircraft because the warning message disappeared after the pilot followed guidelines to solve the problem.

The ministry suspended the license of the pilot for one month and fined Asiana 20 million won ($19,650) for lying to authorities.

The affiliate of Kumho Asiana Group expected that it could lose more than 3 billion won by not operating the twice-daily flight to Saipan for seven days.

But industry insiders said that it will also hurt tourism because Asiana is currently the only local airline that flies daily between Incheon and Saipan. U.S.-based carrier Dynamic Airways flies from Incheon to Saipan twice a week.

Although the penalty dates have not been determined, some experts have suggested that Jeju Air, the nation’s largest low-cost carrier (LCC), begin operating its Incheon-Saipan flight earlier than planned to minimize damage to travelers’ plans. Jeju Air was planning to begin daily flights to Saipan in October.

The ministry also ordered Eastar Jet to stop using one of its eight aircraft for five days. The local LCC was found guilty of flying an aircraft after ignoring a warning message indicating that the plane had a problem with its doors. The penalty dates have also not been finalized and Eastar has until June 26 to appeal the decision.

BY JOO KYUNG-DON [kjoo@joongang.co.kr]



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