KAL issues statement as incidents on flights rise

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KAL issues statement as incidents on flights rise

Korean Air Lines, the country’s largest airline and flag carrier, released a statement yesterday saying it would take strong measures against any persons who compromise flight safety.

“Illegal acts in flying aircraft may endanger all of those on board,” it said in its announcement, adding that it would “take strong measures against those who hinder flight safety.”

The statement by Korean Air follows a rise in the number of violent incidents on domestic and international flights this year alone.

In June, a passenger on a Korean Air Lines flight heading from Atlanta, in the United States, to Incheon International Airport was reprimanded after physically assaulting a female flight attendant. According to witnesses, the man was intoxicated, having drank alcohol he concealed in a beverage container, and hitting on the woman seated next to him.

When the female flight attendant attempted to restrain the troublesome passenger, he abruptly swore at her and hit her in the face. The injuries she sustained required 20 days of medical treatment. The man was handed over to authorities once the plane landed in Seoul.

Frequent assaults on flight crew made headlines last year when a local corporate executive got physical with an attendant on a Korean Air Lines flight over a bowl of instant noodles.

He later tendered his resignation after he was publicly criticized for his behavior.

From January to July this year, the country’s flag carrier reported 18 passengers to the police for attacking flight crew. That number does not account, however, for incidents that were resolved or otherwise went unreported to authorities.

“Most of assaulters plead that they were drunk,” Korean Air Lines said in its statement yesterday. “But we are planning to hand over those who attacked flight crew without exception and request strong punishment to maintain the safety of aircraft operation.”

By law, those who hinder an aircraft’s security or a flight by assaulting or threatening a crew member may be jailed for up to 10 years.

Domestic airlines have tended to maintain a more generous posture toward their passengers, viewing potential conflicts as a possible job hazard, though nearly all international carriers have a zero-tolerance policy.

BY KIM YOUNG-HOON [bongmoon@joongang.co.kr]

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