Asiana appeals 45-day flight suspension

November 18, 2014

SEOUL (Yonhap) — Asiana Airlines Inc., South Korea’s second-largest flag carrier, said Monday that it has formally appealed a 45-day government ban on flights on its Incheon-San Francisco route, imposed following its crash last year that left three people dead.

The appeal made to the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport argued that the administrative action taken by a seven-person panel was effectively reached in advance of the deliberation process. It added that selection of members to sit on the panel was not fair from the outset.

The transportation ministry announced the ban Friday in response to the crash of Flight 214 in San Francisco in July of last year. Besides the deaths, the crash of the B777-200ER wide-body jet resulted in injuries requiring treatment for 180 of the 307 people on board.

The U.S. National Transportation Safety Board in June of this year said pilot error was the main cause of the crash.

The airline said that it is insisting that the chair and all members of the administrative review panel be changed and that if such actions are not taken, it will proceed to take legal action.

Asiana said it has submitted a request to the Board of Audit and Inspection to examine the government’s overall decision-making process, while also taking the case to the regulatory reform committee.

The company claimed South Korea is the only country that bans flights for safety violations, instead of just levying fines. It said the system goes against global trends.

“The government’s actions did not take into account the countless appeals made by the International Air Transport Association, both foreign and domestic airlines, and ordinary travelers, who expressed concerns that a suspension will become a serious inconvenience,” the company said. It argued that many experts in the field do not think flight suspensions help improve safety.

Asiana ferries some 170,000 passengers on its Incheon-San Francisco route annually, with 70 percent being non-Korean. The passenger occupancy rate for the route as a whole stands at 85 percent.

The airline said that the suspension and the subsequent loss in revenue will make it hard for the company to play a part in the build up of the airplane maintenance, repair and overhaul industry that is being pursued by the incumbent administration.

“Asiana deeply regrets concerns triggered by the crash and pledges to continuously improve its flight safety standards to meet highest expectations,” it said.