Govern­ment to abol­ish manda­tory use of flag­ship car­ri­ers

The Korea Times - - NATIONAL - By Nam Hyun-woo namhw@ko­re­

The govern­ment abol­ished a rule oblig­ing its em­ploy­ees to use ei­ther Korean Air or Asiana Air­lines for official over­seas trips, Thurs­day.

Ob­servers say the mea­sure was taken be­cause the Korean Air owner fam­ily’s mis­be­hav­ior an­gered the public.

Ac­cord­ing to the Min­istry of Strat­egy and Fi­nance and the Min­istry of Per­son­nel Man­age­ment, the govern­ment de­cided to end its Govern­ment Trans­porta­tion Re­quest (GTR) sys- tem af­ter us­ing it for 40 years.

Un­der the GTR, com­mon car­rier trans­porta­tion ser­vices were pro­cured for all govern­ment of­fi­cials. The govern­ment signed GTR deals with Korean Air in Septem­ber 1980 and Asiana Air­lines in Au­gust 1990 and “obliges official trav­el­ers to use (Korean) na­tional car­ri­ers,” un­der an or­der from the prime min­is­ter.

The min­istries said the govern­ment has been re­tain­ing the sys­tem be­cause it al­lows the govern­ment to se­cure ur­gent tick­ets, change seats and can­cel tick­ets with­out ad­di­tional fees, which can be up to 30 per­cent of the ticket price, but de­cided to end the sys­tem due to “cir­cum­stan­tial changes” sur­round­ing over­seas official trips.

In 1980, Korean Air was the only do­mes­tic air­line, but the coun­try has eight car­ri­ers now, with 93 air­lines cur­rently fly­ing from and to Korea. The num­ber of out­bound Kore­ans also grew 78 times to 2.65 mil­lion last year from 340,000 in 1980.

“The govern­ment plans to end GTR deals with air­lin­ers by Oc­to­ber, af­ter spend­ing all the mileage em­ploy­ees have earned,” an official said.

Re­plac­ing the GTR, the govern­ment said it will make min­istries select their main travel agen­cies re­spec­tively through open bid­ding and let the agen­cies make flight book­ings.

Though two car­ri­ers have been re­tain­ing the GTR deals with the govern­ment, Korean Air has been vir­tu­ally mo­nop­o­liz­ing official trans­porta­tion ser­vices.

Ac­cord­ing to the Korea Trans­port In­sti­tute, Korean Air sold GTR tick­ets worth 179.68 bil­lion won to 212,574 govern­ment of­fi­cials from 2010 to 2014, far greater than Asiana Air­lines with 42.5 bil­lion dur­ing the same pe­riod.

The price of tick­ets also has been at the cen­ter of the con­tro­versy, with GTR tick­ets some­times priced higher than those pur­chased through travel agen­cies. The ex­ist­ing rule al­lows govern­ment of­fi­cials to use other car­ri­ers when their tick­ets are cheaper but not many of­fi­cials do this be­cause they have to prove the price. “Through this, govern­ment of­fi­cials will buy air tick­ets at mar­ket prices the same as the public,” the official said, adding that the ad­min­is­tra­tion ex­pects to save 8 bil­lion won ($7.4 mil­lion) an­nu­ally.

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