Back To Top

Korean Air pilots to begin strike Thursday

Unionized pilots at the country’s largest airline are set to begin a 10-day strike Thursday, and the Transport Ministry has opened a central control tower to prepare for anticipated flight cancellations.

The strike will cancel 84 passenger flights around Christmas from Dec. 22 to 26, including 20 international flights to Japan, China and the Middle East. Most, or 97 percent, of Korean Air’s international flights will run on schedule during the strike. Flight changes from Dec. 26 to Dec. 31 have not yet been finalized.

Currently, the union has said that 189 pilots will join the strike. However, according to Korean Air, the number of pilots participating has fallen to about 174. The union has not officially changed the reported number of striking pilots.

(Korean Air)
(Korean Air)

The airline industry was designated as an industry providing an essential public service in 2010, meaning that by law, air carriers must run 80 percent of their international flights, 70 percent of their flights to Jeju Island and 50 percent of all other domestic flights even during a strike.

Korean Air is cooperating with the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport to ensure that there are no safety problems arising from the strike such as pilots being overloaded with flight hours or skipping steps in safety protocol. The control tower will remain in operation until the strike ends on Dec. 31.

The strike is a result of failed wage negotiations that began late last year. In the negotiations, the pilots’ union asked for a 37 percent wage hike against the company’s offer of 1.9 percent. 

Korean Air said through a statement that the company will not negotiate a higher wage increase than 1.9 percent out of fairness to non-pilot employees, who accepted that rate in their own negotiations.

By Won Ho-jung (
catch table
Korea Herald daum