Friday, December 28, 2001

Korean Air resumes
service to Guam for
the first time in 4 years

Associated Press

HAGATNA, Guam >> Korean Air resumed daily service to Guam yesterday, the first time since the carrier's deadly 1997 crash here.

The passengers aboard the flight from Seoul landed at 2 a.m. yesterday and were greeted with hundreds of leis from the Guam Visitors Bureau.

"This is good news," said James Nelson, the bureau's general manager.

Officials hope the flight will help with the ailing tourism industry on Guam, a U.S. territory 3,700 miles west of Hawaii.

In 1997, a Korean Air Boeing 747 slammed into a hill while landing on Guam Island during a rainstorm, killing 228 people. Twenty-six survived.

The U.S. National Safety Transportation Board blamed pilot error and cockpit confusion as the main causes of the crash, which was cited as one of the reasons for the drop in Guam's tourism industry.

"Korean Air's re-emergence into the market will be a great help to all of us," said David Tydingco, the Guam Hotel and Restaurant Association president.

The Federal Aviation Administration's upgrade of South Korea's international aviation safety ratings this month lifted restrictions imposed in August on Korean carriers that prevented them from resuming flights to Guam.

Asiana Airlines has plans for flights between Guam and South Korea's second largest city, Busan, in early January, Tydingco said. Asiana already has flights from Seoul.

He hopes that Korean travelers will eventually reach 200,000 visitors a year, as it did in 1996. Tourists from Korea that year represented 15 percent of Guam's tourism market.

Last year, Koreans made up only 7 percent of the visitors to Guam, according to the Pacific Daily News.

"The relaunching of the Korean Air service to Guam is a milestone in the work that has been done to revitalize the Korean market," Tydingco said.

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