August 17, 2018 09:58
Asiana Airlines has canceled about 200 flights scheduled until March next year over chronic delays caused by poor maintenance. The decision came at the instruction of the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport.
This will inconvenience some 15,000 people who had already booked tickets.
One 26-year-old who is going to get married in November booked a hotel and air tickets in March for his honeymoon in Hawaii. But on Aug. 7 he got a text message from Asiana saying his flight was canceled due to "a change in the summer schedule."
A staffer told him the only compensation the carrier could offer was to book him on another flight without charge. But nothing fit his schedule, so he had to buy a ticket from another airline that cost W300,000 more (US$1=W1,131).
Another 30-year-old man had booked an Asiana ticket for November. "I forfeited my deposits for a rental car and a hotel due to the change," he said.
An Asiana staffer told the Chosun Ilbo, "It's not stipulated in the terms and conditions of flights, but we're offering compensation to customers if they prove damages."
But many victims said they have heard nothing about compensation. Last month, the ministry inspected Asiana maintenance because so many flights were delayed and advised it to cut some flights. According to the ministry, Asiana's delay rate was a whopping 57.7 percent in the first half of 2018, the worst of all 10 domestic airlines.
Asiana decided to cut flights to six destinations in the U.S. and six in Europe from 82 per week to 75 for six months from Oct. 9. Airlines adjust flight schedules every six months depending on the number of passengers, but it is rare to cancel several hundreds for maintenance.
"Airlines have no choice but to follow the ministry's instructions," an industry insider said. "Confusion has erupted because the ministry suddenly ordered Asiana to reduce flights without guidelines on the proper time for maintenance."
The other nine airlines are also nervous because the ministry has warned it will inspect them too. "The government has to give top priority to safety," a ministry official said. "It's up to the airlines to control the damage from changed schedules."
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