Korean Air executive to quit remaining posts after nuts scandal

By Jethro Mullen, CNN
December 12, 2014 — Updated 1516 GMT (2316 HKT)

Untitledhttp://edition.cnn.com/2014/12/12/world/asia/korean-air-nuts-scandal/index.html

(CNN) — The Korean Air executive who kicked up a fuss over a bag of nuts will resign from her remaining posts with the airline, the company chairman — who is also her father — said Friday.

The executive, Heather Cho, found herself at the center of a media storm after she ordered that a plane turn back to the gate and that a flight attendant be removed — all because she was served nuts in a bag instead of on a plate in first class.

Although her role put her in charge of in-flight service, she was only a passenger on the flight and was not flying in an official capacity.

The incident, which took place last week at New York’s JFK airport, stirred anger among the South Korean public over Cho’s behavior.

Cho, whose Korean name is Cho Hyun-ah, resigned Tuesday from the airline’s catering and in-flight sales business, and from its cabin service and hotel business divisions, the company said.

But the 40-year-old kept her title as a vice president of the national carrier, according to company spokesman.

That’s going to change, her father, Cho Yang-ho, said Friday as he made a public apology for what happened.

She will be resigning from the vice president job and positions held in affiliate companies, he said.

Asked by reporters how the incident could have happened, the company chairman blamed himself, saying he’d raised her badly.

‘Outburst of anger’

A local English-language newspaper, The Korea Times, said her behavior has deepened public resentment of South Korea’s large family-owned corporations, known as chaebol.

“Through her outburst of anger, she not only caused inconvenience to KAL passengers, but also to those on other flights,” the newspaper said in an editorial Tuesday.

The most annoying type of airline passenger is …

South Korean authorities are now investigating the incident, which occurred on a flight due to take off for Incheon International Airport near Seoul.

Cho arrived at the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport on Friday as part of the investigation, according to local TV coverage. She spoke in such a low voice that it was inaudible from the TV footage.

‘An excessive act’

Korean Air apologized for any inconvenience to those on the flight and said there had been no safety issues involved. The plane arrived at its destination 11 minutes behind schedule, according to the South Korean news agency Yonhap.

“Even though it was not an emergency situation, backing up the plane to order an employee to deplane was an excessive act,” the airline said earlier this week. “We will re-educate all our employees to make sure service within the plane meets high standards.”

The airline also issued an apology on Heather Cho’s behalf, Yonhap reported, in which she asked for forgiveness and said she would take “full responsibility” for the incident.

According to her biography on the website of Nanyang Technological University, Heather Cho joined the airline in 1999 and has since been “actively involved in establishing a new corporate identity for Korean Air.”

She studied at Cornell University and the University of Southern California.

CNN’s K.J. Kwon and Laura Smith-Spark contributed to this report.


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