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Korean Air chief signals daughter’s return to firm

Hanjin Group and Korean Air chairman Cho Yang-ho has hinted at the possibility of his daughter Heather Cho making a comeback to the company, nearly six months after the former female Korean Air executive resigned from all posts over the so-called “nut rage” case.

Meeting reporters in Paris early this week, the family-run conglomerate chairman said that he will focus on developing his children’s expertise as a step to succession.

The senior Cho has three children including Heather Cho, who was set free in May after nearly five months in prison due to an appeals court‘s suspension of the sentence she was given for obstructing the airline’s safety during a row over the way she had been served macadamia nuts.

“I won’t blindly hand over (the company) to the next generation. They should show their ability to inherit. The three all have their own expertise so I will focus on utilizing the specialties,” the chairman said while at Paris-Le Bourget Airport to attend the Paris Air Show.

Hanjin Group chairman Cho Yang-ho (second from left) poses with Hanjin KAL executive vice president Cho Won-tae (left) and Boeing Commercial Airplanes CEO Ray Conner (third from left) after signing a memorandum of understanding to purchase aircraft at the Paris Air Show on Tuesday. (Korean Air)
Hanjin Group chairman Cho Yang-ho (second from left) poses with Hanjin KAL executive vice president Cho Won-tae (left) and Boeing Commercial Airplanes CEO Ray Conner (third from left) after signing a memorandum of understanding to purchase aircraft at the Paris Air Show on Tuesday. (Korean Air)

Chairman Cho attended signing ceremonies along with his son and Hanjin KAL CEO Cho Won-tae for the purchase of more than 100 new aircraft from Airbus and Boeing at the Paris Air Show.

Regarding the younger Cho’s attendance at the event, the chairman said “It’s to train him about airline business which has several aspects including marketing and maintenance.”

Heather Cho, who was once considered to be the heiress apparent before the incident, is the oldest among the 66-year-old chairman’s three children. Her siblings ― Cho Won-tae and Emily Cho ― are executives at the airline.

The former Korean Air executive was sentenced in February to one year in prison over the Dec. 5 incident at New York‘s John F. Kennedy airport, where she forced a plane to return to its gate in order to expel the flight’s crew chief.

She resigned from all posts at the airline after the incident became public.

The outburst over how to serve nuts aboard a plane triggered great backlash against the family-run conglomerate.

Heather Cho currently faces a civil suit filed in New York by a flight attendant involved in the incident for damage caused to her career, reputation and emotional health.

By Park Han-na (hnpark@heraldcorp.com)
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