Airline Crew Poised to Return to Work

  • By Choi Yeon-jin

    May 14, 2022 08:41

    Airline crew on furlough are preparing to return to their posts as international flights resume now most COVID restrictions have been lifted.

    Some 70 to 80 percent of airline staff were put on furlough when international flights were suspended.

    Asiana Airlines will give its crew emergency training to help them adapt to new aircraft models bought while they were on furlough. Korean Air will also resume safety training late this month for crew who return to work in June.

    Budget carriers including Jeju Air and T'way Air are also planning to put their crew back on duty.

    Asiana Airlines crew undergo a safety training at its headquarters in Seoul on Thursday.

    But airlines are wary of going back to normal completely for fear that the emergence of new COVID variants could cripple business again.

    There are at any rate still not enough international flights to justify all furloughed crew returning to work. Major carriers are increasing flights to Europe, but they are now at a mere 10 to 20 percent of pre-COVID levels. "The government has pledged to increase international flights to 50 percent of previous levels by the end of this year," an industry insider said. "So presumably only about half of crew can return to their posts."

    Only when all COVID regulations are lifted everywhere will overseas travel go back to normal.

    Compulsory PCR tests are a drag for overseas travelers. A test for a family of four costs a whopping W1 million (US$1=W1,283). Ticket prices are also too high because there are so few flights.

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