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Asiana flights to Saipan to be suspended for 7 days

All Headlines 22:59 June 11, 2014

SEOUL, June 11 (Yonhap) -- Flights to Saipan operated by South Korea's second-largest flag carrier, Asiana Airlines Inc., will be suspended for seven days due to the airline's violation of safety regulations, officials said Wednesday.

Asiana, which operates two daily flights to the Pacific resort island, will also have to pay 20 million won (US$19,675) in fines and place a 30-day suspension on the captain who flew to Saipan on April 19 after ignoring an engine error warning on the plane, the officials said.

The Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport reached the decision on Tuesday and notified the airline earlier on Wednesday.

The ministry and the airline will decide when to start the suspension after taking into consideration passengers who have already bought tickets, a ministry official said.

"The ministry said it would take strong measures, but this is unprecedented and shocking," an airline official said, speaking on condition of anonymity. "I don't think we will raise objections. We will do our best to minimize discomfort for our passengers and fly safely."

Officials said it is the first time for an airline's flights to be suspended over violation of safety regulations.

Safety has emerged as a priority in South Korea after some 300 people were killed in a ferry sinking in April.

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