Who’s responsible for the mistake?
The odds of an aircraft taking off without a passenger’s luggage at Incheon International Airport are 0.7 for every 100,000 pieces - compared to the average 14.6 at airports around the world. The airport has won the Airport Service Quality Award from Airports Council International for the 10th straight year in 2015 partly because of such scrupulous baggage control. The airport was to export its luggage management system to China and the Middle East before it messed up big over the New Year’s holiday weekend.
The unexpected system malfunction and subsequently delayed flights showed how reputation in the service sector can crumble overnight. A service provider must prove its competency over time. Incheon Airport’s system had built its reputation through impeccable quality control over the last decade.
The Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, and Transport was to announce the cause of the Jan. 3 luggage disaster at the airport and a set of preventive measures on Monday, but delayed it without setting a new date.
Critics believe the ministry is trying to buy time and sidestep the issue, which has generated criticism of the government’s airport-related policies and revolving-door appointments in the chief executives spots at public airports.
Incheon Airport missed the timing for making improvements. The airport terminal was designed to handle a maximum 44 million passengers a year, but in 2014, 45 million used the airport. Under its original plan, a new terminal to host up to 62 million passengers should have been completed by last year. That construction was delayed until late 2017, and as a result, the airport now faces an amount of traffic it just can’t handle.
In a state assessment of public enterprises, the airport received the top A grade until 2012. The score slumped to a B in 2013, and then a C the next year, as political favorites were put in charge of the airport. Two presidents left within a year because they wanted to run in parliamentary elections. The country’s major airport needs a serious revamp before a serious accident occurs.
JoongAng Ilbo, Jan. 12, Page 30