Korean Air may face sanctions after “nut rage”

Airline could get 21 days of flight suspensions or $1.3m fine

Korean Air faces a criminal investigation and possible sanctions for pressurising employees to lie during a government investigation into the “nut rage” fiasco, South Korea’s transport ministry says.

As reported, the airline’s chairman’s daughter overruled the captain of a flight to force the plane back to the gate in the incident early this month. Cho Hyun-ah, who was head of cabin service, ordered a senior flight attendant off a flight when she was served macadamia nuts in a bag instead of on a plate, claiming service protocol in first class had been breached.

The crew member, Park Chang-jin, has told media that Cho had shamed and insulted crew members. He alleges that airline executives then asked him to gloss over the incident.

A first-class passenger on the flight told the news agency Yonhap that Cho had yelled at flight attendants who kneeled before her, pushed one crew member’s shoulder and threw an object at the cabin wall.

Korean Air could face 21 days of flight suspensions or a $1.3 million fine for violating aviation law, the ministry says. Whether the airline’s corporate culture posed a safety risk to passengers will also be investigated.

Cho has publicly apologised and resigned from all her posts at Korean Air and at parent company Hanjin Group. Cho family members have a direct 10% stake in Korean Air. The incident has outraged the South Korean public and made headlines around the world.

Meanwhile, the reporting on the scandal has been so widespread that retailers in South Korea say that sales of macadamia nuts have increased by 20% since the story broke.

TTG Digital / BBC

[image courtesy Korean Air]