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Korean Air calls for 6-month work stoppage for 70% of workforce


South Korea's No. 1 flag carrier, Korean Air Lines, said Tuesday that it will start a six-month-long work stoppage for more than 70 percent of its workforce, as the novel coronavirus wreaks havoc on the airline industry.

The measure is part of an ongoing effort to survive the worsening business environment brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic that has caused air passenger movement to nosedive with countries around the world restricting movement of people.

The stoppage, which will go into effect on April 16 and run through Oct. 15, only permits handful of essential personnel to remain on the job.

Flight crew members, as well as employees on the ground in local offices, will be required to take leave, the company said.

In other self-rescue measures, the national flag carrier earlier said it will raise funds by selling more non-core assets. This follows the decision by Korean Air's parent firm, Hanjin KAL Corp., to sell off assets.

Also, executives' salaries will be reduced by 30-50 percent, depending on the post, starting this month and remain at that level till business picks up, the company said.

The national carrier has suspended more than 90 percent of its flights on international routes.

Eastar Jet, a South Korean low-cost carrier, also said that it will cut one-fifth of its workforce as it strives to stay afloat.

The measures come after state-run Korea Development Bank rejected Eastar Jet's request for a fresh loan due to lack of collateral and the carrier's low credit ratings.

South Korea reported fewer than 47 new cases of the new coronavirus on Tuesday, bringing the nation's total infections to 10,331, according to the Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.