Asiana Airlines, pilots union in talks, strike enters 4th day

  • Business
  • Wednesday, 20 Jul 2005

SEOUL, South Korea (AP) - Management and union leaders at South Korea's Asiana Airlines headed into talks Wednesday as the carrier braced for more disruptions to its international and cargo services from a pilots' strike that stretched into a fourth day. 

Pilots at South Korea's second-largest airline walked off the job Sunday for the second time in less than two weeks, demanding more rest days, a greater say in management decisions and change in the retirement age from 55 to 60. 

The airline was expected to drop one international flight to Sydney on Wednesday, along with 80 domestic ones, Asiana spokesman Oh Kyung-keun said. 

Four cargo flights scheduled for Wednesday also were expected to be canceled.Negotiations have been held intermittently since the walkout began, with no major progress reported. Asiana management and the union didn't meet Tuesday but planned to talk Wednesday, Oh said. 

Asiana indefinitely suspended international cargo flights Tuesday forcing the airline to find alternatives for shipping the goods of some of South Korea's biggest corporate names, including Samsung Electronics Co., LG Electronics Inc. and Hyundai Motor Co. 

Three scheduled cargo flights canceled Tuesday, the strike's third day, were to have carried 230 tons of liquid crystal displays, semiconductors and other products, said Asiana spokesman Jason Kim. 

Asiana has been working with other carriers including Germany's Lufthansa Airlines to reroute the traffic, Kim said. 

The airline is trying to juggle flight schedules to protect key domestic and lucrative international routes during peak summer travel, operating flights with nonunion pilots and any unionised pilots who haven't joined the strike. 

More than half the pilots belong to the union, but so far not all have participated. 

The airline's strategy has had mixed results. 

It has maintained full passenger service to the southern resort island of Jeju despite canceling about half its domestic flights since Monday. 

It has only had to suspend international passenger service on one route - to and from Sydney, Australia. 

Still, Asiana estimates that the cargo suspension could cost it 16 billion won ($US15.4 million; euro12.8 million) a week and 70 billion won ($US67.3 million;euro56.2 million) a month in lost sales, Kim said. - AP

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