South Korean airlines have a spotty safety history, and in the 1990s and early 2000s, the industry was beset by a series of crashes.
In 1993, an Asiana Airlines Boeing 737-500 carrying 110 people from Seoul to a port city in southwestern Korea crashed, killing all but 44 passengers. In 1997, a Korean Air Boeing 747 slammed into a hill while landing on Guam Island during a rainstorm, killing 228. Twenty-six people survived. In September 1998, another Korean Air plane overshot a runway while attempting to land during a typhoon in Ulsan, South Korea. A month before that, a Korean Air Boeing 747 skidded off a runway in Seoul and lost its landing gear.
In 1998, one of Asiana’s Boeing 747 jets struck the tail of an Aeroflot jet parked at a gate at the Anchorage International Airport. Federal Aviation Administration officials said the Asiana pilot lost control of the plane. No injuries were reported.
In March 1999, a Korean Air jet skidded off a runway while landing in Pohang, South Korea, and spilt in two. Nineteen passengers were injured.
One of the industry’s lowest points came in 2001 when the FAA downgraded South Korea’s safety ratings. The U.S. agency said the country’s civilian aviation authority did not comply with international safety standards set by the International Civil Aviation Organization. The restrictions were lifted in December of that year after Korean officials corrected the safety shortcomings.
In recent years, Asiana Airlines, South Korea’s second-largest carrier, appeared to be on the upswing, forging partnerships with American carriers, including JetBlue Airways. Last year, Asiana was awarded the “Best Overall Airline In the World” by readers of Business Traveler magazine.
Asiana, based in Seoul, was founded in 1988 and operates a fleet of 79 planes, including 12 Boeing 777s. It operates 268 daily flights to 23 countries and 71 cities. It has more than 9,000 employees, according to the Associated Press.