SEOUL, Dec 8 (AFP): A strike by pilots crippled Korean Air Thursday, forcing South Korea's biggest airline to cancel more than half its scheduled flights.
Hundreds of pilots walked out in response to the collapse of negotiations over wages early Thursday, the company said.
"There is no sign of reaching a deal. Both sides are running on parallel tracks," Korean Air spokesman Cho Hyong-Chol told the news agency.
The industrial action forced Korean Air to cancel 204 of 387 flights scheduled for Thursday alone. Flights for Friday were also cancelled, the company said.
It said 30 of 154 international passenger flights and 24 of 31 international cargo flights scheduled for Thursday had been cancelled.
The strike is expected to affect 44,000 passengers and the shipment of 3,500 tons of cargo per day, the company said.
Despite the losses, the pilots' union remained adamant.
"We will not ease our struggle until the management comes up with a reasonable proposal. The responsibility for the strike's consequences rests with the management," the union said in a statement.
The pilots are demanding a 6.5 per cent pay raise plus a 50 per cent bonus raise while the company is sticking to a government-brokered proposal for a 2.5 per cent wage increase plus the 50 per cent bonus rise.
Korean Air has 1,980 pilots, with some 1,300 of them unionised. Over 500 unionised pilots staged a rally at a training center near Incheon International Airport, west of Seoul, Thursday.