*Extra* Delta Dissolves Pact With Korean Air Lines

Also, sick-outs seem to be catching, despite costs.
Publish date:

In what appears to be the first time a U.S. carrier has dissolved an international codesharing partnership over safety concerns,

Delta Air Lines

(DAL) - Get Report

said Friday that it was suspending its partnership with

Korean Air Lines

, after the South Korean flagship airline suffered yet another fatal crash on Thursday.

The crash of the Korean Air cargo flight came just one day after Delta had said that it "stood by" its codesharing arrangement with the Asian carrier. Airlines in codesharing agreements sell tickets on each others' flights.

The airline made the comment after questions were raised concerning a copy of an internal safety review, apparently written by two Korean Air pilots, showed up on the Internet two weeks ago.

While Korean Air tried to minimize the damage of the report, saying that it was a "severe distortion," the airline did not dispute the authenticity of its writers. The two pilots who authored the comments were apparently part of a larger group of pilots who participated in an internal safety review of the airline.

The report, which was dated September 1998, claimed that the pilots for the airline were poorly trained and had an insufficient knowledge of the English language.

While the report cited several specific problems involving improper crew behavior or actions, the overriding message in the report was that the airline's crew problems seem to be rooted in a culture in which junior-level crew members are expected to defer to their seniors, even when the senior crew members make mistakes.

To quote from the report: "Currently, in some Korean cockpits, there is a volatile cocktail of complacency, arrogance, apathy, and a lack of self-discipline."

While the report apparently did not compel Delta to modify its codesharing agreement with the airline, it appears that the crash on Thursday made Delta take a second look. Reuters reported that the crash killed nine people and injured another 34.

Delta not only suspended the codesharing agreement but also said that it will be in contact with all of its passengers who are also booked on Korean Air flights -- to assist them in making alternative travel plans.

A Sick-Out at Alaska Airlines

Right on the heels of the huge fine assessed against

American Airlines'


pilots union for an illegal sick-out, which Wing Tips reported

yesterday, it appears

Alaska Airlines

(ALK) - Get Report

was hit Friday with an employee slowdown of its own.

Alaska Airlines said on Friday that 26 flights had been canceled and that more cancellations were possible this weekend, as an unusually high number of ticket agents and baggage handlers called in sick.

It is unclear whether the sick-out was organized by the

International Association of Machinists

, which represents both employee groups and is currently involved in negotiations for both groups with the airline. The union claimed that the action was a "grassroots" movement, and it issued a pretty strongly worded "cease and desist" order late Friday, asking all employees to return to work as soon as possible.

While the airline had said it thought the sick-out was an "organized event" and was considering legal action to force the workers to return to work, Alaska Airlines management backed off late on Friday -- after the union issued its appeal. As of Saturday evening, it was not clear how successful the union had been in getting employees back to work.

National Airlines Flaps Its Wings

No, you are not hallucinating. I know: First we had another Pan Am. Now we have another

National Airlines

. (Anyone else remember those horribly sexist but horribly effective commercials for the original National Airlines? "I'm Wanda, Fly Me." Ah -- those were the days.)

This National Airlines is based in Las Vegas, and is the baby of ex-

America West



Michael Conway

. The airline, which has put together a group of startup financial backers, including a number of the larger casinos in Las Vegas, will begin taking reservations Monday for its new service out of Las Vegas. Service will begin at the end of May.

The airline, which will use only modified


(BA) - Get Report

757 aircraft, will fly from Las Vegas to Chicago, Los Angeles, New York and San Francisco.

The airline is not yet publicly traded.

Holly Hegeman, based in Dallas, pilots the Wing Tips and Traveling With Wings columns for TheStreet.com. At time of publication, Hegeman held no positions in stocks discussed in this column, although holdings can change at any time. Under no circumstances does the information in this column represent a recommendation to buy or sell stocks. You can usually find Hegeman, publisher of PlaneBusiness Banter, buzzing around her airline industry Web site at

www.planebusiness.com. While she cannot provide investment advice or recommendations, she welcomes your feedback at