Prosecutors summon ex-Korean Air exec over 'nut rage'

Kyodo News

Posted at Dec 17 2014 05:49 PM | Updated as of Dec 18 2014 01:49 AM

SEOUL -- State prosecutors summoned the former vice president of Korean Air for questioning Wednesday into allegations that she had physically and verbally attacked a cabin crew member on an Incheon-bound plane from New York's JFK International Airport earlier this month.

Cho Hyun Ah, 40, who was called into the Seoul Western Prosecutors' Office, ignited public outrage after she had the airplane that was on the taxiway returned to the gate and delayed the departure of the plane with 250 passengers aboard for 11 minutes on Dec. 5.

Cho, eldest daughter of Korean Air chairman Cho Yang Ho, flew into a rage after she was served macadamia nuts in a packet rather than in a bowl in the first-class cabin and ordered the flight to return to the gate so the chief flight attendant could be removed.

She resigned last week after her conduct prompted a storm of criticism against her and the air carrier.

The transportation ministry said Tuesday it would file a formal complaint with prosecutors over the conduct of the former executive and take disciplinary measures against the carrier.

"Statements from some flight attendants and passengers confirmed her abusive language and yelling," a statement by the ministry said, adding she might have violated a clause of a related law that obliges passengers to cooperate for flight safety.

It would also take disciplinary measures against Korean Air over the captain's failure to command and supervise flight crew members for the safe operation of the flight.

Reports said initial investigation showed Cho cursed flight attendants and hit one of them with the company's service guidebook.

Korean Air carried a statement in the front page of major newspapers Tuesday and apologized for the incident.

"We are keenly aware any words of apology are not enough," the statement said.