Shown above is an airplane of Korean Air, which received a verdict of a Russian arbitration court to pay a $46 million fine. Photo courtesy of Korean Air.

Korean airline company is scheduled to appeal

A Russian arbitration court ordered Korean Air last week to pay $46 million in a fine to the country’s customs authorities, the verdict that the South Korean flag carrier vowed to appeal Tuesday.

Observers fear that cash-strapped Russia may come up with similar measures against Korean corporations as the relationship between the two countries has gotten worse of late.

The dispute started in February 2021 when the Russian customs office contended Korean Air’s cargo plane took off from Sheremetyevo International Airport without getting its official seal.

Back then, the plane headed from Korea’s Incheon to Germany’s Frankfurt via Moscow.

In response, Korean Air argued that the Seoul-based airline received the seal just after the departure from Moscow and submitted all necessary documents to the Russian airport.

In February 2022, Russian customs slapped a fine of $86 million on Korean Air, which brought the case to the court that almost halved the amount to $46 million Thursday.

“Our airplane took off at the Russian airport after receiving a general declaration, and the seal was also given just after the departure,” a Korean Air official told UPI News Korea.

“Hence, it’s difficult to accept the decision of the Russian court. We will appeal it,” he said.

Against this backdrop, watchers point out that the unprecedented financial penalty may have something to do with Russia’s financial problems due to the United States’ economic sanctions against Russia following its 2022 invasion of Ukraine.

In addition, things are feared to change for the worse after Korean President Yoon Suk-yeol made a surprise visit to Ukraine this month, promising to provide a bigger batch of military supplies to the war-torn country.

“The court decision on Korean Air appears to have something to do with the deteriorating relationship between South Korea and Russia amid the prolonged war,” Seoul University of Foreign Studies politics Professor Son Tae-gyu said.

“There are so many South Korean enterprises, which have operations and assets in Russia. I am highly concerned that Russia may conduct retaliatory measures against them at a time when South Korea vows to increase support for Ukraine.”

The publisher studied Korean history in Seoul and management of business administration in the United Kingdom. He has 20-year experiences in the media business. Kim can be reached at or 82-2-6956-6698.