South Korea’s transport ministry has said Korean Air will face sanctions for pressuring employees to lie during a government investigation into the “nut rage” fiasco that highlighted the tyrannical behaviour of a top Korean business family.

The ministry said it would also evaluate if the airline’s corporate culture posed safety risks after its chairman’s daughter, Cho Hyun-ah, overruled the captain of a flight to force the plane back to the gate in the incident early this month.

Cho, who was head of cabin service at Korean Air, ordered a senior flight attendant off a 5 December flight after she was served macadamia nuts in a bag, instead of on a plate, in what she thought was a breach of service protocol in first class.

The director of the transport ministry, Lee Gwang-hee, said Korean Air could face 21 days of flight suspensions or a $1.3m (£0.8m) fine for violating aviation law. The punishment would be determined by a separate committee that could decide to increase or lessen it.

Cho family members have a direct 10% stake in Korean Air, which is part of the family’s Hanjin conglomerate.

Park Chang-jin, the crew member who was forced to leave the plane, told South Korea’s KBS television network on Friday that Cho had shamed and insulted crew members. A first-class passenger told the Yonhap news agency that Cho yelled at flight attendants who kneeled before her, pushed one flight attendant’s shoulder and threw an object at the cabin wall.

The incident made headlines around the world and enraged the South Korean public, leading to Cho’s removal from all executive roles at the airline.

The 40-year-old and her father apologised last week but a fresh furore has erupted over Korean Air’s attempt to foil government investigators and local media reports that exposed how employees were treated like servants of the Cho family… see more

source: Guardian UK