Asiana Airlines Ordered To Suspend San Francisco Route For 45 Days

Asiana Airlines will be made to suspend its San Francisco route for a period of 45 days at some point in the next six months. The Korean Supreme Court upheld a decision by the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport to issue the suspension as a punishment, following the crash of flight 214 in 2013.

Asiana Airlines
Asiana Airlines will suspend its San Francisco route for 45 days. Photo: lasta29 via Flickr

As reported today in Reuters, South Korea’s Supreme Court upheld a decision to suspend the airline’s route between Seoul Incheon and San Francisco for a total of 45 days. This will be very unwelcome news for the Korean carrier, as it struggles under a mountain of debt and seeks to find a buyer to give it a fresh lease of life.

A suspension penalty

The suspension of the route was previously ordered by Korea’s transport ministry in the wake of a deadly crash at San Francisco International Airport in 2013. The incident involved a Boeing 777-200, which crash-landed at SFO causing three deaths and injuries to around 200 people. The cause was determined to have been pilot error.

Asiana crash
Asiana flight 214 crash-landed in 2013. Photo: NTSB via Wikimedia

The airline was deemed to be responsible for the accident due to the lack of training and education of its pilots. The pilot had failed to accurately monitor airspeed and was found to have been too reliant on automated systems.

As a result, Korea’s Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, and Transport ruled that the airline should suspend the route for a total of 90 days as a punishment. However, they then agreed to halve this punishment on the agreement of the airline to give compensation to its victims.

But Asiana wasn’t happy with this, and subsequently won an injunction, preventing the punishment for being effected until a further ruling was granted. Following several years of back and forth, the ruling by the highest court in Korea cannot be argued with, so the airline must accept the punishment. The Korea Times reports a statement from the airline, which read,

“We respect the court ruling. To minimize the inconvenience to our customers, we will consult with relevant organizations.”

When will the suspension take place?

So as to cause the least amount of disruption to the airline’s passengers, the suspension will not take place right away. The exact timing will be decided in due course, but it must be within the next six months. A spokesperson for the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport told Yonhap News,

“The suspension period will be determined through consultations with Asiana in order to minimize passenger inconvenience.”

Asiana Airlines
Asiana will announce the date of suspension in due course. Photo: Asiana Airlines

The airline has said that this ruling will cost it in the region of 11bn won ($9.3m) in sales. However, it has also said that it plans to redeploy the aircraft usually used on the SFO route onto other services, which will go some way to minimizing the overall losses incurred.

An insider speaking to Reuters said that the ministry is planning to request other airlines operating the route to use larger aircraft during the period of Asiana’s suspension.

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MK Mnguni

Sounds to me like aa is only concerned with revenue losses rather than remedial action for the incident.

Dennis

Don’t they all?

nksjd

This is so dumb this happened over 5 years ago, action should’ve taken place back then not now

Al

You must be unfamiliar with the process of litigation. It is commendable that action resulted at all.

Steve

Sounds like the big losers are air travelers – disruption of travel plans and reduced seat capacity resulting in higher ticket prices. Good work, Supreme Court!

Tom

This seems like a weird form of punishment. Why not just issue a fine, as opposed to forcing Asiana not to fly the SFO route? It would accomplish a financial punishment for the airline without punishing the airline customers, or SFO for that matter, who now will likely see reduced traffic.

Tom Boon

I had the exact same thoughts!

cowboy

so, the “cause” is determined to be pilot error due to “lack of training and education”..I see nothing in all this that rectifies the issue…so what’s the point? Automation dependency will continue to be a dangerous feature of modern airline operation as long as primary training is centered on the simulator environment.

Aviator

Automation dependency has nothing to do with the simulator environment. In fact, the simulator environment affords pilots the chance to practice airmanship skills and emergency procedures without the help of automated systems. I would encourage you to read the full accident report, so that you can fully understand the various factors that resulted in this particular accident and the steps taken to mitigate this aviation safety vulnerability.

Dawn Albrecht

So… I have round trip tickets from San Francisco to Incheon and back in November… how are they going to let customers know if their flight is affected?