Asia

'Nut rage': Former Korean Air executive to face criminal probe

Cho Hyun-ah, also known as Heather Cho, daughter of chairman of Korean Air Lines, Cho Yang-ho, appears in front of the media outside the offices of the Aviation and Railway Accident Investigation Board of the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport, in Seoul December 12, 2014. Image copyright Reuters
Image caption Heather Cho has apologised over the incident, but it continues to cause outrage

South Korea's transport ministry says it will file a criminal investigation against the Korean Air "nut rage" executive and take disciplinary measures against the airline.

The probe comes amid public outrage after Heather Cho ordered a steward be removed from a 5 December flight.

Ms Cho, the daughter of the Korean Air chief, was enraged over being served nuts in a bag, not on a plate.

The incident has sparked a major backlash in South Korea.

The plane returned to the gate so the steward could be offloaded, before the plane proceeded on its journey from New York to Incheon.

Ms Cho has publicly apologised and resigned from all her posts, both at Korean Air and at parent company Hanjin Group.

'Violent language'

The transport ministry said testimony from passengers and crew had confirmed Ms Cho "used violent language in a loud voice".

The ministry believed she "may have violated Article 23 of the Aviation Safety Law, which requires the co-operation of passengers on a flight", and said it was filing a compliant.

The ministry also said it would examine whether the airline's corporate culture posed a safety risk to passengers.

Media reports in recent days have alleged that the Cho family's directives dictate employee behaviour at the company.

The steward who was removed from the flight has alleged he was asked to gloss over the incident by airline executives, local reports say.

State prosecutors are also investigating reports Ms Cho used violence during the incident. Ministry officials said she had denied this, Yonhap news agency reported.

Korean Air could face either a partial flight ban or a fine, the ministry added.

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