No more nepotism, please

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No more nepotism, please

The heads of two public airport companies have resigned from their positions to run in next year’s general elections. For 10 consecutive years, Incheon International Airport has been cited as the world’s best airport in the Airport Service Quality customer satisfaction survey. For foreign visitors, it is the first representation of Korea.

But with 20 months still left in his tenure, Incheon International Airport CEO Park Wan-soo resigned on Monday. Kim Seok-ki, the president of the Korea Airports Corporation, a state entity that runs 14 airports nationwide including the smaller Gimpo Airport, also stepped down. He had 10 months left in his tenure. Both aspire to run in the upcoming April 13 general elections as ruling party candidates.

This has happened before. Park became CEO after his predecessor, Chung Chang-soo, quit in March 2014 to run in the Gangwon gubernatorial race, and the position was vacant for seven months until Park stepped in. During the interim, Incheon International Airport slipped from its No. 1 spot in the ASQ survey, losing out to Singapore in the third and fourth quarters. Since a separate entity to operate the country’s main airport in Incheon was established in 1999, no other CEOs have resigned on their own without finishing out their term.

Politicians lacking in experience and commitment were placed in those seats instead. In order to prevent such hiccups in management, the government must appoint airport chiefs with proven devotion to the job and sufficient experience in the field. We need a CEO who can provide a long-term outline to upgrade the services and safety of Korean airports. These positions must not serve as temporary reliefs or rewards for politicians.

Now, Incheon International Airport is once again trailed by Singapore, and China’s international airports are also making big strides. The head of the airport must be capable of beating out the global competition, not his political opponent.

JoongAng Ilbo, Dec. 23, Page 34

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