South Korea to review safety of budget airlines

Seoul - South Korea's transport ministry will carry out a safety review of all the country's low-cost airlines, after an aircraft was forced to make an emergency return after takeoff from the Philippines on Sunday.

The Boeing 737-800 belonging to Jin Air, a budget airline operated by South Korea's top carrier Korean Air, was carrying 163 passengers to Busan from Cebu, when it turned back shortly after take-off after a door was found to be leaking air.

"All low-cost carriers will undergo an overall inspection of their safety management to prevent similar accidents," the transport ministry said in a statement following the incident.

Last month, a passenger jet belonging to another budget carrier, Jeju Air, plunged 3,000-metres in mid-air due to problems with its on-board air compression system.

The safety inspection order by the ministry will include a check on all maintenance records and flight procedures.

South Korea currently has six licensed budget airlines operating in an increasingly crowded market.

The latest addition - approved at the end of last year - is Air Seoul, the second low-cost carrier operated by Korean Air's main rival Asiana.