The Korean Air Lines executive who delayed a flight because she didn’t like the way she was served nuts has stepped down from her posts overseeing the airline’s in-flight service and hotel business.
Heather Cho Hyun-ah, the eldest daughter of the airline’s chairman and chief executive, Cho Yang-ho, will, however, retain her title of executive vice-president.
“I apologize to our customers for causing a stir,” the Wall Street Journal quoted Heather Cho as saying in a statement Tuesday. “I beg for a pardon if anyone was hurt by my behavior.”
Her actions sparked an outcry about the power and attitude of entitlement of the families that run some of South Korea’s largest conglomerates, known as “chaebol”. The Cho family owns about 10 per cent of Korean Air.
Cho was seated in the taxiing plane’s first-class cabin at New York’s JFK airport Friday when a flight attendant served her an unopened bag of macadamia nuts.
The executive said she should have first been asked if she wanted the nuts and then had them served on a plate, not in the bag, a Korean Air spokesman said.
Cho “screamed and scolded” the flight attendant and asked the purser, the senior cabin crew member in charge of in-flight administration, about the proper procedure for food service in first class, the report said, citing company officials.
Unsatisfied with the purser’s response, she ordered him off the plane, forcing the flight to return to the gate.
South Korea’s transport ministry said it will investigate the incident.
The country’s aviation regulations say a plane preparing for takeoff should return to the gate only if the pilot determines there is an emergency, such as one involving the safety of the aircraft or its passengers. Violators can face up to 10 years in prison.
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