The U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) today assessed a civil penalty against the Korean carrier Asiana Airlines for providing passenger service between U.S. destinations, a practice referred to as cabotage which is banned by law.
Asiana was assessed a civil penalty of $750,000 for the violation, the largest penalty ever assessed by the department for unauthorized service, in part because the carrier violated an existing order to refrain from unlawful cabotage operations. Half of the penalty will be forgiven if Asiana commits no similar violations within three years.
DOT’s Aviation Enforcement Office found that Asiana, between July 1998 and May 2002, unlawfully carried a substantial number of passengers between Guam and Saipan - both within the United States - and a number of cities in the continental United States with connections in Seoul, Korea. Asiana also advertised services in these markets on the Internet, in newspaper ads and through travel agents. According to U.S. law, it is illegal for foreign airlines to carry passengers between U.S. points unless the department grants specific authorization.
This is the second penalty against Asiana for violating U.S. cabotage laws. In July 1998, the department found that the carrier was offering cargo shipments on its flights between Guam and Seattle, also with a connection in Seoul.
Asiana, without admitting or denying the violations, consented to the civil penalty and agreed to refrain from future violations. At all times in this matter, Asiana exhibited a cooperative and compliant attitude and has sought advice from the department to ensure that its future operations do not violate the cabotage prohibition. Asiana has also undertaken remedial steps to prevent future violations. DOT is continuing to investigate several other carriers for cabotage violations in the same markets.
DOT’s consent order may be obtained via the Internet at http://dms.dot.gov/reports/reports_aviation.asp#notices.