Asiana Forced To Suspend SFO Flights Due To 2013 Crash

Filed Under: Asiana

Most probably remember the Asiana Airlines 777-200 that crash landed at San Francisco International Airport in July 2013.

The accident, which was primarily determined to be pilot error, caused three fatalities and nearly 200 injuries. As a result of this the airline is being punished — that’s because the airline didn’t provide proper education or training to their pilots.

Today Korea’s top court upheld a ruling that requires Asiana to suspend flights to San Francisco for a 45-day period within six months, as punishment for the accident.

Asiana Airlines says that the suspension will likely cost them about 11 billion won, which is about 9.3 million USD. The airline says that they will obey with the court order, but that they will consult with the transport ministry to select the period that would have the least impact on passengers.

As the airline said in a statement:

“We respect the court ruling. To minimize the inconvenience to our customers, we will consult with relevant organizations.”

You might be wondering why it has taken over six years for this punishment to finally happen. That’s because this has been quite a legal process:

  • In November 2014 Korea’s Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, and Transport ordered the airline to suspend the route for 90 days, but they later reduced that punishment by half, on account of the airline agreeing to compensate victims
  • Asiana won an injunction in January 2015, allowing them to continue operations until a further ruling
  • Subsequent court rulings all agreed with the initial decision, but the timeline for this being implemented kept getting pushed back

At this point it seems like this is a sure thing, as the airline has tried to appeal the decision up until this point.

It will be interesting to see when Asiana Airlines actually suspends the San Francisco route. It appears that they have between now and next April to suspend SFO operations, so I’d guess that they’d likely suspend the route towards the end of that period, since chances are that fewest people are booked further out.

This sure is a unique way to punish an airline that’s determined to be at fault for an accident. Ultimately passengers are losing out as a result of this as well. You’d think it would just make more sense to fine the airline the equivalent of what a 45-day suspension would cost, but clearly that’s not how things are being done…

(Tip of the hat to Szymon)

  1. Could you imagine if the courts did that to a US airline? They would have kept fighting it through the various court levels, appealing decisions in a never ending cycle. Meanwhile, Asiana is like “okay, we’ll accept the punishment”.

  2. Feh. I’m struggling with an award ticket right now that would use this flight for the return in late November.

    @Juan: As should be clear from the post, Asian did fight this and initially received an injunction against it but now all appeals are exhausted. It has been six years.

  3. How about Air Canada? A culture of safety cost-cutting, should be banned from US space due to the SFO incident!

  4. @Juan

    What are you talking about?

    Asiana is NOT like “okay, we’ll accept the punishment”.

    The six year process Asiana took all the way to what Lucky calls Korea’s top court. This post identifies that the sanction was first imposed at an administrative level in 2014 and Asiana has been fighting it ever since.

  5. Don’t expect logic. This is the country in which a man sentenced to prison could nominate his wife to serve the sentence in his place…until about 20 years ago.
    It’s a nice place, lovely people ( except those that eat dogs), but a lots of eccentricities, including the legal system.
    What was the outcome of the investigation into the deaths of 2 of the passengers ( ejected onto the tarmac, survived that , only to be run over by a fire truck)?

  6. This seems absurd to me. I have flow Asiana into SFO subsequent to the crash, and felt very safe. A suspension of flights would be warranted to do safety checks, retrain staff etc. To suspend flights as a punishment, hurts passengers as much as the airline. Levying a fine seems much more appropriate.

  7. It’s funny people don’t understand the Asian way.

    The right question to ask is how much free flights on KE did the judge’s niece, aunt, cousin get.

    Legal system aside, can’t OZ just charter HiFly to operate during the 45 days or wet lease their planes to UA. I’m sure the judge likes to fly both KE and OZ at a deep deep discount.

  8. This is bizarre, Asiana have a good safety record these days and it’s the passengers the court is inconveniencing. Sure there’s a financial loss but Asiana will survive and six years later are the same people even in charge?

  9. @Paolo – The family of the girl who was ejected, covered with fire retardant foam, and run over by a fire truck likely causing her death successfully sued the City of San Francisco Fire Department and settled.

    I’m more interested in knowing what happened to the pilots.

  10. @Phil Duncan – the same people that were in charge when the crash happened aren’t even there anymore. Asiana is currently in a massive leadership flux that will ultimately end in new ownership, probably before the end of 2020.

    I find this a bit shocking, mostly because of the new leadership that is seemingly committed to change for the better, the fact that the government is in the middle of assisting the sale of the airline, and most of all as mentioned above, it impacts the consumer more than it does the airline.

    I bet they suspend the route somewhere from mid-January to March, just after the busy Christmas travel window. Low season for travel, lowest yields. April is too busy with cherry blossom season and leisure travel picking back up. They may have to accommodate more booked passengers in January, but I bet theyd lose less money. It will be interesting to see how/if they deploy the extra a350 during those 45 days.

  11. For those who say Asiana is a safe airline now — the latest Asiana accident that causes casualty is in 2015, just 4 years ago. In the last 10 years three such accidents happened. I’m curious how you guys define “safe”.

  12. It looks like Asiana has already canceled flights sporadically in April. There may be other months, but I only checked April.

  13. What exactly is the point here? I can understand suspending flights for a certain period after a crash to determine if the airline is safe, but it’s been 6 years and nothing from the period of the crash is relevant, so this is strictly punitive, and there are much better ways to punish a company than an arbitrary suspension that serves no purpose.

  14. “The accident, which was primarily determined to be pilot error, caused three fatalities and nearly 200 injuries. As a result of this the airline is being punished — that’s because the airline didn’t provide proper education or training to their pilots.”

    I got news for you. Virtually ALL aircraft accidents are caused (entirely or to some significant degree) by pilot error — lack of training and experience are part of that. The number of serious accidents that are not caused by pilot error is virtually zero.

    And add to that the fact that increasingly, cockpit crews include “pilots” with incredibly little experience actually flying airplanes. Take the 737MAX debacles as examples. One pilot had less than 200 hours total time flying real planes. That is a disaster just waiting to happen.

    Especially in developing countries around the world (though far too common here in the 1st world, too) pilots are being put in cockpits with shockingly little actual experience and minimal training. Fatal accidents are the entirely predictable result.

    Yes, simulators help. Yes, computer-based training (and all training) is useful. But as a SUPPLEMENT to in-flight experience, not as a REPLACEMENT for it. All the simulators and other training will NOT make you a safe pilot (although it certainly does allow you to complete “requirements”), it will just make you good at flying the sim or answering test questions.

    There is no substitute for actual piloting experience, period. Actual experience piloting an airplane takes time and money…more of it than most people are willing to pay. Your ultra-low-cost air tickets, which are what the public has demanded and now come to expect, are one of the things driving this “cheapening” of pilots and cutting corners on experience. Your $99 ticket is part of what’s to blame for accidents like those mentioned here (Asiana pilot was good at the sims, not so good at actually flying a plane, same thing with the two 737MAX crashes). You certainly can (and certainly should) try to design systems to be more forgiving of inexperienced pilots, but experience is what counts, especially when something goes wrong. Putting the manager of a fast-food restaurant with just 200 hours total flying experience, in the right seat of a modern jet (even with lots of sim time and extensive training) is just not safe, period.

  15. Memories-
    Bay Area news station KTVU just reported that the pilots of Asiana’s disastrous flight 214 were the crack team of “Sum Ting Wong,” “Wi Tu Lo,” “Ho Lee Fuk,” and “Bang Ding Ow.”

    On a serious note- After it was reported that SF Firefighters had run over a survivor on the runway, the Fire Chief (at Union request) banned wearable cameras so as not to have any evidence of guilt with future incidents.

  16. Are the canceled flights for incoming to SFO only? Does that mean since no planes can land at SFO, there won’t be any planes outgoing from SFO? Back in August, I booked a ticket for March 29 leaving from SFO. If my flight is canceled, what are my options?

  17. I have a ticket booked SFO to Incheon leaving on March 12. It appears there are no seats available to purchase for this route between mid-March and April 2020. I contacted the ticketing agency where I purchased my ticket and they informed me that they have not received any notification from Asiana regarding the situation. Rep indicated that Asiana would need to send a “waiver” so that my cancellation would not be considered voluntary.

    Any one have more insight into this? If I need to, I’ll re-book with another carrier but want to make sure I get a refund.

  18. @BooBooBear – They will bring the planes to SFO by ship so that take-offs can occur as scheduled.


  19. @Dick Bupkiss

    Really Dick?
    The pilots are to blame for ALL crashes?
    Please tell me how did pilots screw up these flights.
    AA11 UA175 AA77 UA93
    TWA 800
    MetroJet 9268
    MH 17
    Iran Air 655
    KE 007
    Lauda 004
    PanAm 103
    AA 96 Turkish 981
    UA 585
    And the list goes on.

    Don’t be a Dick and have some more respect please.

  20. @David,
    No, he isn’t. That really happened. The on-air anchors read off that list of “names” without verifying them and got burned in what is likely the most savage prank in the history of TV news. You can see it on YouTube.

    And yes, I’m going straight to hell because I laughed my butt off when I first saw it.

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