Asiana, Korean Air employees hold joint rally against scandals as shares of both airlines plunge

More than 400 employees of Asiana Airlines Inc. and Korea Air Lines Co. gathered together to condemn their chiefs, Park Sam-koo (left) and Cho Yang-ho, respectively, on July 8, 2018.
More than 400 employees of Asiana Airlines Inc. and Korea Air Lines Co. gathered together to condemn their chiefs, Park Sam-koo (left) and Cho Yang-ho, respectively, on July 8, 2018. PHOTOS: AFP, EPA-EFE

SEOUL - Hundreds of staff from South Korea's two rival air carriers held a rare joint rally late Sunday (July 8), blaming the companies' top management for causing scandals that have evoked huge public outrage.

More than 400 employees of Asiana Airlines Inc. and Korea Air Lines Co. gathered in central Gwanghwamun to stage a rally condemning their chiefs Park Sam-koo and Cho Yang-ho, respectively, Yonhap news agency reported.

Asiana staff denounced Mr Park and his executives for massive in-flight meal service disruptions that led over 100 of its flights to take off without food for passengers for most of last week. The fiasco resulted in the suicide of the head of a supplier to Asian's new caterer that failed to produce food on time.

A woman, who claimed to be a relative of the man who took his own life, made a speech at the rally calling for "actions to find out the exact reasons" for her uncle's death.

"I don't believe family or colleagues caused this to happen," she said. "Why he had to die - the truth must be uncovered and things need to be set right."

Protesters from the rival airline Korean Air joined the demonstration, the second rally by Asiana employees following a candlelight vigil last Friday.

Korean Air employees already held two rallies of their own in early May, at which they denounced the founding Cho family for years of habitual bullying and assaults on employees and others that have led to prosecution investigations.

Sunday's joint rally was to voice their united call for measures to prevent such managerial errors and misconduct from happening again and also to call on their chiefs to take full legal and ethical responsibility, they said.

Protesters marched towards the headquarters of Kumho Asiana, located in Gwanghwamun, where they planned to wrap up the rally.

 
 

Meanwhile the stocks of both airlines have been plunging due to the scandals, Korea Herald reported.

Shares of Asiana Airlines closed at 4,120 won (US$3.70) last Friday, marking a 32.5 per cent price drop from a high of 5,460 won logged around five months ago on Jan 29. During the period, around 275 million won was wiped away from its market cap.

Shares of Korean Air and related companies have been plunging in value since the "water rage" incident involving Mr Cho's daughter, which led to a series of government and prosecutorial probes into the Korean Air Group and its businesses.

Prior to the "water rage" incident, Korean Air shares stood at 35,900 won on April 11. But as of last Friday, the shares were priced at 27,950 won, marking a 22.14 per cent drop in value and 754 million won in market cap wiped off the map, according to Korea Herald.