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Air Force cuts flying hours as oil prices soar

A significant rise in oil prices has forced the Air Force to slash its authorized flying time and other military wings to take energy-saving steps, the Defense Ministry said Thursday.

The measures are in line with a government-wide campaign as the price of Dubai crude, which makes up the bulk of South Korea’s imported oil, is hovering around $110 a barrel, following turmoil in the Middle East and Northern Africa.

Since the start of this month, the Air Force has cut the annual flying hours per pilot to 145 hours from 153 hours, ministry officials said. The Army and Navy are mobilizing fewer vehicles and ships in their field exercises.

Military barracks are forced to keep the indoor temperature below 18 degrees celsius, according to the ministry. Soldiers and officers alike are encouraged to take a bath only one time per week, from twice a week.

However, troops maintaining combat readiness are not required to follow the energy-saving steps, ministry officials said.

“The military is expected to face difficulties this year in managing its oil reserves if high oil prices continue, given that the price of Dubai crude is soaring amid the unrest in the Middle East,” said Choi Seok-ki, head of the ministry’s logistics management bureau.

The ministry set this year’s budget on an assumption that the price of Dubai crude would average $73 a barrel, Choi said.

South Korea, the world’s fifth-largest crude importer, relies almost entirely on imports for its oil needs, with 82 percent of its oil being imported from the Middle East. 

(Yonhap News)