South Korean airlines fight against high oil prices
South Korea's two major airlines, Korean Air and Asiana Airlines, have scaled back their operations as they struggle with high fuel prices, the carriers said.
Korean Air has temporarily trimmed some unprofitable routes, including flights to Guam and Hanoi, while Asiana Airlines has reduced flights to China, reported dpa.
Asiana is even trying to send some of its staff on unpaid vacations that could last up to three months and is buying oil with its fellow members in the Star Alliance, like United Airlines, to share the burden of the rising prices.
Korean Air is also seeking to reduce its planes' weight so they consume less fuel. "That's why we replaced a 27-kilogram food cart with a 20-kilogram cart," an airline official said.
Frequent fliers might soon find they must use their mileage within five years because the two carriers were planning to introduce a system where unused mileage would expire after five years.
The financial diet the airlines have put themselves on has come as rising oil prices have hurt their bottom lines.
"We must pay more than twice the price for purchasing oil to operate flights than we did a year ago," a Korean Air official said.
As a result, the carrier is seeing swelling losses that hit 325.5-billion-won (312-million-dollar) in the first quarter. Korean Air managers have said that, even if an airplane is full of passengers, it is hard to make money from the flight.