Korean Air CEO’s daughter resigns in row over nuts

Agence France-Presse
Korean Air CEO’s daughter resigns in row over nuts


Cho Hyun-Ah is quoted as saying, 'I will resign from all my posts at Korean Air to take responsibility for the incident'

SEOUL, South Korea – The daughter of Korean Air’s CEO resigned Tuesday, December 9, after being widely criticized for having the chief purser kicked off a plane because of the way she had been served some nuts.

Cho Hyun-Ah, a top executive in Korean Air’s in-flight service, forced the New York-Seoul flight to return to its gate last Friday to remove the most senior member of the crew, causing the plane to be delayed.

Her behavior attracted heavy criticism in South Korea, where she was accused of being petty and arrogant, and even prompted a state probe over a possible breach of aviation safety laws. 

“I feel so sorry for our customers and South Koreans for causing such trouble… and seek forgiveness from the people who might have been hurt by me,” Cho, 40, said in a statement released by Korean Air. 

“I will resign from all my posts at Korean Air to take responsibility for the incident,” she was quoted as saying.

Korean Air CEO Cho Yang-Ho immediately accepted her resignation, according to the statement.

Korean Air’s spokesman told AFP that Cho would retain the title of vice president even though she no longer had any official role in the company, adding it was not clear whether she would hold any responsibilities in the future.

The Seoul flight had just left its gate at New York’s JFK airport on Friday when the incident occurred.

Cho, sitting in first class, took exception to the arrival of some macadamia nuts she had not asked for, and to the fact that they were served in a packet rather than a bowl.

She summoned the chief purser who, according to an earlier Korean Air statement, replied with “lies and excuses” when challenged over his crew’s knowledge of in-flight service procedures.

Cho then decided the chief purser was “incapable” and the plane returned to the gate where he disembarked, causing an 11-minute delay in arrival.

Korean Air – South Korea’s flag carrier – earlier apologised for causing “inconvenience” for passengers but defended Cho’s action as a “reasonable” move to improve in-flight service.

It also argued that the final decision to deplane the employee was taken by the captain.

Transport Minister Suh Seoung-Hwan said earlier Tuesday the incident was being investigated and any regulatory breach would be “handled sternly”.

‘Ugly behavior’ 

The media backlash against Cho has been extensive.

“This ugly behaviour by the Korean Air boss’s daughter puts the entire nation to shame,” Seoul’s top business daily, the Maeil Business Newspaper, said in an editorial.

“This is a global embarrassment for South Korea… Korean Air should punish Cho, and she should apologise to the public for disregarding passengers’ safety,” it said.

The Dong-A Ilbo newspaper said Cho’s action had exposed the “sense of entitlement and supercilious attitude” prevalent among the rich. 

“Apparently some members of owner families like Cho see their companies like their own kingdom,” it added.

Cho, one of the CEO’s three children, joined Korean Air in 1999 and was promoted to vice president this year. 

A major Seoul civic group joined the fray, saying it would ask prosecutors to investigate Cho for a potential breach of aviation safety laws and disruption of business.

“Given the suffering of the cabin crew who were subject to such insult and abuse… the prosecutors should launch an investigation immediately to prevent similar abuse by high-level company executives in the future,” People’s Solidarity for Participatory Democracy said in a statement. 

A formal request for the probe would be filed Wednesday, it added. – Rappler.com

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