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Korean Air executive apologizes for macadamia nut controversy

South Korea Korean Air ApologiesSouth Korea Korean Air Apologies
Cho Hyun-Ah speaks to the media in Seoul, South Korea, on December 12, 2014.Photograph by Lee Jin-man — AP

The former Korean Air Lines executive who delayed a flight because she was unhappy with the way she was served macadamia nuts apologized for the incident Friday, Reuters reported.

“I will apologize sincerely … in person,” Cho reportedly said in response to a question by a reporter as she arrived at a transportation ministry office where she was expected to answer questions about last Friday’s incident at New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport.

“I sincerely apologize for causing trouble for everyone. I’m sorry,” she added.

Heather Cho, the daughter of the airline’s chairman, was head of in-flight service before she stepped down from the post this week. Cho also told Reuters she would apologize to the cabin crew chief, who had been ordered to disembark, delaying the flight.

The incident, which is being investigated by South Korean transportation authorities, provoked anger and mockery. Cho is also under a separate investigation by local prosecutors following a complaint filed by a civic group that accused her of breaking multiple laws, Reuters said.

The incident was first reported on Monday, and public outrage grew after Korean Air issued what many in the country took to be a half-hearted apology that rationalized her conduct in the face of inadequate performance by the cabin crew chief.

Cho was seated in first-class when she took issue with a flight attendant who handed her macadamia nuts in a bag, not on a dish, according to an industry official briefed on the matter, who declined to be identified.

Cho summoned the cabin crew chief to ask whether the flight attendant was following the in-flight service manual, and the crew chief could not answer promptly, the airline said.

Cho “took issue with the cabin crew chief’s qualifications,” and the plane was returned by the pilot to its gate to expel the crew chief, the airline said.

—Reuters contributed to this report.