Heather Cho, daughter of Korean Air Lines Co. chairman, was indicted for obstructing aviation safety after she ordered a crew member to deplane during a row over in-flight service of macadamia nuts.
An unnamed executive at Korean Air was also indicted for attempting to destroy evidence and interfering with the investigations, according to Kim Chang Hee, a prosecutor at the Seoul Western District Prosecutors’ Office, in a televised briefing today.
The charges come after Cho was arrested last week amid a public outcry in South Korea over the incident. Cho, a vice president of the airline at the time, ordered the head of the service crew on Flight 86 from New York to Seoul to deplane Dec. 5 after an attendant served her macadamia nuts without asking.
The aircraft had already left the gate at John F. Kennedy International Airport for takeoff when the incident happened. It took no more than 2 minutes to return to the gate to deplane the crew member, according to the airline. The flight was 11 minutes late when it arrived in Seoul on Dec. 6.
Cho, 40, who was a passenger in first class, resigned from all of her positions at Korean Air and other affiliates during the public backlash. Her father apologized to the public.
An official at the transport ministry, who wasn’t named, was indicted for passing on information of the investigation to Korean Air, Kim said. The prosecutors will probe whether other ministry officials received free upgrades on flights, he said.