South Korea’s biggest full-service carrier Korean Air Lines Co. (KAL) said on Tuesday that it will mobilize all available resources to operate normal flight schedules despite the planned strike by its unionized pilots during the unusually long Chuseok holiday period next week.
“We will mobilize all available resources including foreign pilots to make sure passenger flights are not disrupted and ensure normal operations even if unionized pilots go ahead with the planned walk-out,” the carrier said in a press statement on Tuesday.
KAL’s management and its pilots have been in conflict over a wage hike for the last two years. Last Thursday, the pilots union threatened to go on strike from October 1 to 7 in protest to the wage dispute, saying that 390 pilots will participate.
In 2010, KAL was designated as an entity providing service in favor of public interest, which limits the number of pilots striking to up to 20 percent, or 460 pilots, of the total 2,300 pilots. By law, a carrier must have 80 percent of pilots at work for international routes, 70 percent for Jeju route, and 50 percent for other domestic routes even under labor conflict.
Although the airline pledged to operate normal passenger flight schedules despite the planned walk-out, it looks inevitable for the company to face partial disruption in the operation of its cargo flights during the October 1 to 7, including the country’s extraordinary long Chuseok holidays. The carrier said that if pilots refuse to work, KAL plans to reduce 31 cargo flights during the seven days, including 10 flights bound for the Americas, three for Europe, 13 for China, and five for Southeast Asia.
The country’s airport is anticipated to be crowded by a record number of Korean planning to go abroad during the Chuseok holidays.
By Kim Jung-hwan
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