Civil servants to be punished for flight upgrades

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Civil servants to be punished for flight upgrades

The Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport announced on Tuesday that it will punish four civil servants who requested seat upgrades while flying on business trips.

Thirty-seven civil servants out of the 558 at the Transport Ministry who went abroad last year had their seats upgraded, either involuntarily or upon request, according to an internal audit.

Of the total, 34 received seat upgrades more than 43 times.

The audit was spurred after an investigation by the prosecution in the wake of the Korean Air “nut rage” incident unveiled that Transport Ministry civil servants have received bribes from the carrier in exchange for making business decisions in its favor.

The ministry decided to levy punishments only on the four civil servants found to have requested seat upgrades for themselves or family members. The penalty will depend on each person’s status and how frequently they abused their power.

In most cases the air carriers automatically upgraded the seats after taking too many reservations. The 33 civil servants who received the benefit without asking will receive simple warnings.

The ministry said that such upgrades are an “industry-wide practice” in a written statement on Tuesday, but added that it is inappropriate for public servants to receive favors from an industry directly related to their jobs.

“We will make sure to get rid of this practice,” it said.

BY KIM JI-YOON [kim.jiyoon@joongang.co.kr]

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