The US Federal Aviation Administration's downgrade of South Korea's aviation safety oversight rating is rapidly taking effect, with Asiana Airlines losing a codeshare agreement with American Airlines and the country's transport minister resigning.

SkyTeam alliance partners Korean Air (KAL) and Delta Air Lines have meanwhile had to postpone plans to resume codesharing, while the stock prices of KAL and Asiana have been hard hit.

The downgrade of South Korea's aviation safety rating to Category 2 under the FAA's International Aviation Safety Assessment programme prevents the two carriers from boosting services to the USA unless they wet-lease aircraft from countries that are rated Category 1.

Minister for construction and transportation Oh Jang-seop lost his job after the FAA confirmed the downgrade, citing the country's failure to meet minimum safety oversight standards set by ICAO (Flight International, 21-27 August).

Oh was replaced by Korea Land's president Kim Yong-chae, who has vowed to work towards a prompt reinstatement of Category 1 status. South Korea says it will ask the FAA to consider setting up a Seoul office.

At the same time the KCAB says it is considering a proposal from FlightSafetyBoeing (FSB) to establish a pilot training centre in Seoul. FSB won a contract to oversee pilot training at KAL in mid-1999.

Asiana has estimated that it could lose 120 billion won ($90 million) in revenue from its severing of codeshare ties with American.

Delta and KAL had separately been hoping to reinstate codeshare ties. The two shared codes until 1999, when Delta stopped putting its passengers on KAL aircraft following a Boeing MD-11 freighter crash at Shanghai.

Source: Flight International