Asiana’s got plenty of food, but its planes keep breaking

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Asiana’s got plenty of food, but its planes keep breaking

There may now be enough food onboard, but Asiana Airlines was once again struggling with major disruptions on Tuesday. This time, the issue was plane defects.

According to the airline, a 10:30 a.m. flight bound for New York from Incheon International Airport was delayed by 10 hours, eventually due to depart at 8:30 p.m. Tuesday as of press time.

The departure of another flight to Los Angeles was also delayed by 10 hours and 20 minutes on the same day.

The airline said the delays will inevitably continue through today due to a knock-on effect.

The problem started Sunday as a defect spotted in the braking system of an Asiana plane bound for Incheon from Hanoi, Vietnam, caused a delay while the plane was stuck on the tarmac.

As flight schedules are closely linked, the delay in that flight caused delays in later international flights.

In an unrelated incident, a defect was discovered in the fuel oil system of an Incheon-bound Asiana plane from Frankfurt, Germany, on Monday, causing another series of delays.

“These problems can occur, but it was bad timing for two planes in a row used in long-haul flights to show defects,” said an Asiana spokesperson.

A third flight from Incheon to Rome was also delayed by six hours due to a defect with the engine sensor.

According to the spokesperson, the planes have since been fixed, but it will take some time before all planes are able to operate on their original schedules.

The timing of the latest issues, coming just a few weeks after Asiana’s no-meal fiasco caused huge delays and pushed the company into numerous scandals related to its chairman, Park Sam-koo, has left customers increasingly frustrated.

While Asiana struggles with its flight operations, a rumored attempt by SK Telecom to acquire the embattled airline pushed up stock prices on Tuesday.

Early in the morning, one local media company reported that SK Telecom CEO Park Jung-ho had suggested the group acquire the airline and that the idea was being seriously considered.

This caused Asiana’s share price to soar by about 20 percent during Tuesday’s trading session.

However, SK Group said it is not considering acquiring shares of the airline in its regulatory filing, calming the market.

SK Group Chairman Chey Tae-won also denied the speculation in a meeting with reporters Tuesday.

As Asiana needs to pay back roughly 2 trillion won ($1.8 billion) of debt by the end of this year, there were rumors that Kumho Asiana Group might sell off the airline unit.

Asiana, however, also said the rumor is groundless.

Asiana shares closed at 4,300 won, up 2.99 percent from the previous trading day.


BY KIM JEE-HEE [kim.jeehee@joongang.co.kr]

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