SEOUL - Heather Cho, the vice-president of Korean Air who caused a flight to be delayed in order to expel a flight attendant for unsatisfactory service, has resigned.
“I feel so sorry for our customers and South Koreans for causing such trouble... and seek forgiveness from the people who might have been hurt by me,” Cho said in a statement released by Korean Air on Tuesday, Agence France-Presse reported.
“I will resign from all my posts at Korean Air to take responsibility for the incident,” Cho, who was responsible for supervising in-flight service, was quoted as saying.
The 40-year-old is the oldest of three children of Cho Yang Ho, the chairman of Korean Air's parent company Hanjin Group and Korea Air's CEO. She was in a first class seat on a flight from New York's John F. Kennedy International Airport for Incheon on Friday when she took issue with a flight attendant who handed her macadamia nuts in a bag and not on a dish, earlier reports and an industry source said according to Reuters.
The flight arrived 11 minutes later than scheduled as a result.
The incident caused an uproar in South Korea. Industry watchers pointed out that it is rare for a flight to return to the boarding gate unless there were technical snags or other problems threatening passenger safety, the Korea Herald reported.
Cho's father immediately accepted her resignation, according to the statement released by the company on Tuesday.
Korean Air’s spokesman told AFP that Cho would retain the title of vice president even though she no longer had any official role in the company, adding it was not clear whether she would hold any responsibilities in the future.
A transport ministry official had said before Cho's resignation that the ministry was investigating the incident "as (Cho) has not shown conduct expected of all passengers on commercial flights".
Cho previously faced public criticism in South Korea after briefly leaving the country to give birth to twins in Hawaii last year so that they would be eligible for US citizenship, the Korea Herald said.
She joined Korean Air in 1999 and was promoted to vice-president this year.
Cho also sits on the 19-member advisory board of Nanyang Technological University's Nanyang Business School.
According to a write-up on Cho on the school's website, she is a graduate of the Cornell University School of Hotel Administration in Ithaca, New York. She also holds a Master of Business Administration degree from the University of Southern California.
Besides her job at Korean Air, Cho is also CEO of KAL Hotel Network, an affiliate of the airline which has three hotels in South Korea and two in the United States.