Korean Air, Asiana face W2 bil. fines
By Kim Tae-jong
The Korea Customs Service may impose up to 2 billion won in fines on the nation’s two major carriers for allowing maintenance crew to board planes without reporting it.
According to the customs agency, Korean Air and Asiana Airlines have both allowed the practice to occur. The current law states that all personnel except flight attendants and pilots must report to the customs office in advance before boarding. Violators are subject to up to 1 million won in fines.
“They violated the law,” an official from the customs service said. “Mechanics are also required to report their boarding in advance, but I think they have repeatedly gone on board without proper procedures just for convenience.”
The customs agency said Korean Air violated the law about 7,000 times in five years since 2007, while Asiana Airlines did so about 5,000 times.
The two carriers admitted that they had broken the law but that it was done unintentionally.
“We simply didn’t know that we should report the boardings to the customs office at Gimpo International Airport,” an official from Korean Air said. “We had taken all necessary steps at Incheon International Airport, thinking that would be enough.”
He argued that previously Gimpo had no customs office as no international routes departed from there before 2007 and that they simply thought they should only follow customs procedures at Incheon.
An official from Asiana Airlines also said it was just a mistake caused by misunderstanding of the new system.
“We all well know that we could pay huge fines for violating customs laws,” he said. “Why would we intentionally break the law just for the sake of convenience?
The customs service will hold a committee meeting Friday and decide what fines are due, after giving the two carriers a chance to defend themselves, the customs official said.