Korean Air Pilots on Strike Through December 31

Dec 24, 2016

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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:

Date From To Flight # Departure Time
12/24, 25 Seoul (ICN) Hong Kong (HKG) 601 13:45
12/24, 25 Hong Kong (HKG) Seoul (ICN) 602 18:00
12/24, 25, 26 Seoul (ICN) Tokyo (NRT) 701 9:05
12/24, 25, 26 Seoul (ICN) Tokyo (NRT) 705 18:45
12/24, 25, 26 Tokyo (NRT) Seoul (ICN) 702 12:50
12/24, 25, 26 Seoul (ICN) Osaka (KIX) 727 11:05
12/24, 25, 26 Osaka (KIX) Seoul (ICN) 728 14:00
12/26 Seoul (ICN) Riyadh/Jeddah (RUH/JED) 961 23:10
12/24, 25, 26 Tokyo (NRT) Seoul (ICN) 706 9:10
12/24 Jeddah (JED) Riyadh/Seoul (RUH/ICN) 962 14:00
12/25 Seoul (ICN) Dubai (DXB) 951 12:35
12/25 Dubai (DXB) Seoul (ICN) 952 23:20
12/27 Tokyo (NRT) Seoul (ICN) 706 9:10
12/27,29,31 Jeddah (JED) Riyadh/Seoul (RUH/ICN) 962 14:00
12/28,30 Seoul (ICN) Riyadh/Jeddah (RUH/ICN) 961 23:10
12/30 Seoul (ICN) Dubai (DXB) 951 12:35
12/30 Dubai (DXB) Seoul (ICN) 952 23:20

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.

Are you being impacted by this strike?

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