Korean Air chairman Cho Yang-ho made his first public apology over the so-called “nut rage” row on Friday, blaming himself for not properly educating his 40-year-old daughter.
“I sincerely apologize for the big troubles caused by my daughter’s foolish behavior. I’m asking forgiveness as Korean Air chairman and the father of Cho Hyun-ah,” he said in a news conference held at the company’s Seoul headquarters.
“Please, blame me. It is all my fault.”
The chairman of the nation’s 10th-largest conglomerate Hanjin Group confirmed that his eldest daughter, former senior vice president of Korean Air, was being relieved of all her official posts at the airline and its affiliates.
Later in the day, the former vice president of the carrier also appeared in person at the Transport Ministry’s investigation committee ― her first public appearance after the Dec. 5 incident at New York’s JFK airport.
Korean Air chairman Cho Yang-ho and his daughter Cho Hyun-ah seperately make their apologies to the public over the ‘‘nut rage‘’ incident in Seoul, Friday. (Yonhap)
Even though the Korean Air flight, with some 250 passengers onboard, was already taxing down the runway, Cho, sitting in first class, ordered the plane to return to the gate and deplane the cabin manager because of the way she had been served some nuts and his lack of knowledge of the service manual. Although she was then the carrier’s cabin service head, she was not flying in any official capacity.
Her ruckus delayed the plane’s departure by almost 50 minutes, according to news reports and passengers.
On Friday when asked if she had any intention to apologize directly to the flight attendant, she responded “Yes, I will.” She declined to further comment on whether she had quarreled with flight attendants or had discussed with the pilot about the deplaning of the cabin crew.
The public apologies by the father and daughter came one day after prosecutors raided the airline’s Seoul and Incheon offices to collect documents including the black box and flight operation records of the plane in question. Cho is also suspected of violating local aviation law and interrupting business.
The “nut rage” incident, first known through the online bulleting board of the Korean Air pilots’ union, triggered public anger at a time when growing inequality and safety issues are on the minds of Koreans. Cho and Korean Air took a lot of flak.
Moreover, the thoughtless act came after an incident involving a POSCO executive who assaulted a Korean Air cabin crew for providing poor service last year. At the time, Cho herself publicly blamed the executive, pledging to enhance efforts to better protect the interests of flight attendants within the cabin.
By Lee Ji-yoon (firstname.lastname@example.org)