The Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport (MOLIT) is looking into whether or not Korean Airlines Vice President Cho Hyun-ah violated aviation law with controversial demands that caused the delay of a Korean Airlines flight from Incheon from New York.
On Dec. 5 (local time), Vice President Cho shouted at a flight attendant and forced the chief administrative attendant off the plane she was on, because her flight attendant didn't serve nuts according to regulation. The plane was moving to the runway of the New York airport for take-off to Incheon at the time, but she forced it to go back to the gate.
The 250 other passengers on the plane had to suffer through the delays caused by the plane going back to the gate. Vice President Cho, who was sitting in first class, criticized the flight attendant by saying, “You should ask the passenger first before putting nuts in a bowl. How could you serve passengers so carelessly?” In the resulting verbal fracas the chief administrative attendant didn't check the service manual immediately. So Cho demanded that the chief administrative attendant be banished from the aircraft before takeoff.
A MOLIT representative commented on the event on Dec. 8 by saying, “We are investigating whether Vice President Cho violated aviation laws.” According to the relevant law, only the flight captain who is responsible for flight safety shall command and supervise flight attendants. It also stipulates that one should not interrupt the performance of the captain’s legitimate duties through violence, threats, or fraud.
An expert in the aviation industry pointed out, “Vice President Cho's behavior is a malfeasance, usurping the authority of the captain by violating the power of the captain.”
Vice President Cho is the first daughter of Hanjin Group Chairman Cho Yang-ho. She works both as the vice president of the cabin and flight attendant division and the head of the in-flight meal services division of Korean Airlines. She joined the company at the age of 25 and was promoted very quickly to senior executive director when she was 31 years old, just seven years after she joined. She was promoted to vice president in March of last year.