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Korean Air Sues Government for Taiwan Flights

Korean Air Co., the nation's largest air carrier, is suing the government to win more flight rights to Taiwan, the company said in a statement.

The airline filed a lawsuit Nov. 18, 2004 with the Seoul Administration Court against the Ministry of Transportation and Construction, saying the number of flights it was awarded to Taiwan in a September air-services agreement, was "unfair."

Taiwan and Korea signed the agreement allowing flights between Seoul and Taipei for the first time since 1992, when Korea established diplomatic relations with China, prompting the island to sever its ties with Seoul.

Korean Air and Asiana Airlines Inc. were awarded nine weekly passenger flights each and one cargo service to Taipei. Taiwan's China Airlines and EVA Airways Corp. were given an equal number of flights to Seoul.

"We were given to believe that our previous flights would be restored to us," Korean Air said in the statement. "We're seeking to restore an additional five passenger flights and one cargo route." Before 1992, Korean Air had 14 weekly passenger flights and two cargo services to and from Taipei.

Officials at the Transportation Ministry were not immediately available for comment.

Visitors from Taiwan are the fourth-largest group in Korea, behind the Japanese, U.S. and Chinese, according to the Korea National Tourism Organization. Koreans were Taiwan's fourth biggest group of visitors, after those from Japan, Hong Kong and Macau, and the United States.

Last year, 576,157 Koreans visited Taiwan and 55,721 metric tons of cargo were flown between Seoul and Taipei.

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