Skip to content

Korean Air Pilots on Strike Through December 31

Dec. 24, 2016
3 min read
Korean Air Pilots on Strike Through December 31
This post contains references to products from one or more of our advertisers. We may receive compensation when you click on links to those products. Terms apply to the offers listed on this page. For an explanation of our Advertising Policy, visit this page.

While British Airways was able to avoid a Christmas Day strike, it looks like Korean Air wasn't as lucky. For the first time since 2005, Korean Air pilots have gone on strike — and they're staying on strike until at least December 31.

The union is calling for a 29% increase in pay, but the airline has only offered a 1.9% raise, saying the "pilots' demands are nonsense." Currently, Korean pilots average ₩150,000,000 (around $125,000) per year in compensation. But Korean Air pilots have been leaving in droves for Chinese airlines, which have been offering $208,000-$250,000 salaries to recruit them.

Thankfully, the impact on flights is going to be fairly limited, as a total strike by pilots isn't allowed under Korean law. As airlines are listed as a critical industry, the airline must be able to continue to operate at least 80% of international flights and at least 50% of domestic flights. For this strike, Korean Air reports that at least 90% of scheduled flights will continue to operate and only 150 flights have been cancelled.

While the impact is going to be much greater on domestic flights, only a relatively few international flights are being cancelled by this strike. No cancellations have been announced for flights to/from the US. Here are the international flights that are currently cancelled:

DateFromToFlight #Departure Time
12/24, 25Seoul (ICN)Hong Kong (HKG)60113:45
12/24, 25Hong Kong (HKG)Seoul (ICN)60218:00
12/24, 25, 26Seoul (ICN)Tokyo (NRT)7019:05
12/24, 25, 26Seoul (ICN)Tokyo (NRT)70518:45
12/24, 25, 26Tokyo (NRT)Seoul (ICN)70212:50
12/24, 25, 26Seoul (ICN)Osaka (KIX)72711:05
12/24, 25, 26Osaka (KIX)Seoul (ICN)72814:00
12/26Seoul (ICN)Riyadh/Jeddah (RUH/JED)96123:10
12/24, 25, 26Tokyo (NRT)Seoul (ICN)7069:10
12/24Jeddah (JED)Riyadh/Seoul (RUH/ICN)96214:00
12/25Seoul (ICN)Dubai (DXB)95112:35
12/25Dubai (DXB)Seoul (ICN)95223:20
12/27Tokyo (NRT)Seoul (ICN)7069:10
12/27,29,31Jeddah (JED)Riyadh/Seoul (RUH/ICN)96214:00
12/28,30Seoul (ICN)Riyadh/Jeddah (RUH/ICN)96123:10
12/30Seoul (ICN)Dubai (DXB)95112:35
12/30Dubai (DXB)Seoul (ICN)95223:20

Bottom Line

This strike isn't going to affect many US-based travelers. However, the chasm in pay between what Korean Air pilots demand and what the company is offering could lead to more strikes in the future — or pilot shortages as more Korean Air pilots head to China for much higher pay.

Sign up for our daily newsletter

Are you being impacted by this strike?

Top offers from our partners

How we chose these cards

Our points-obsessed staff uses a plethora of credit cards on a daily basis. If anyone on our team wouldn’t recommend it to a friend or a family member, we wouldn’t recommend it on The Points Guy either. Our opinions are our own, and have not been reviewed, approved, or endorsed by our advertising partners.
See all best card offers