High-maintenance: Jin Air may lose AOC over executives’ behavior
Jin Air, the budget affiliate of Korean Air, may lose its Air Operator’s Certificate (AOC) due to the fallout from an alleged incident involving the daughter of the airlines’ controlling family, who served on the budget carrier's board of directors for six years despite being ineligible for the post, a government investigation has discovered.
“Family peace and happiness” is what Jin Air wishes its customers. But the Korean Air heiress' so-called “water rage” incident may have overshadowed any positive messages from the carrier and its parent company for a long while.
Cho Hyun-min, the youngest daughter of Korean Air‘s chairman Cho Yang-ho, made headlines when she allegedly threw water at an advertising agency executive during a business meeting in March 2018. South Korean police launched an investigation for possible assault in April 2018, news agency Yonhap reported.
Following the public outcry, Cho Hyun-min was suspended from her job as Jin Air’s executive and senior executive at parent Korean Air, but the scandal has led to probes into her family and its businesses by various government agencies for alleged abuses of power.
From water throwing to coming under fire – that is how the current situation at the South Korean airline group could be described. Now, it faces charges of violating the country’s aviation laws. A government investigation has discovered that Cho Hyun-min served as a registered board member at Jin Air between 2010 and 2016 despite being ineligible for the post.
The reason? Cho Hyun-min was born in Hawaii and is a U.S. citizen, and South Korea’s aviation laws ban foreign nationals on the board of a national passenger carrier. According to the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport, there are grounds to revoke Jin Air’s license since it failed to declare the influence of a foreign citizen, Chosun Media reports.
In a statement back in April 2018, the ministry said it would consider taking legal and administrative measures against Jin Air if it found any wrongdoing after initial reports of the heiress’ citizenship. An official from the ministry reportedly told Reuters that they are indeed considering cancelling Jin Air‘s license, but that a final decision has not been reached yet.
Meanwhile, Jin Air says it is fully cooperating with government officials. If the budget carrier’s license were to be revoked, it may not have such a major impact on Korean Air, but would definitely be a blow to investors of the budget affiliate. Revoking the license could also unsettle the jobs of up to 2,000 Jin Air employees.
And in case you missed it, outrageous excesses by Korean Air’s controlling family is not a novelty. Cho Hyun-min’s older sister, Cho Hyun-ah, who was in charge of in-flight service for Korean Air, made her mark in 2014 with a “nut rage” incident.
Cho Hyun-ah reportedly ordered a flight from New York, U.S., to Incheon, South Korea, to return to the gate at John F. Kennedy Intenational Airport (JFK) to kick the senior flight attendant off the plane in an outburst over the way nuts were served.
Following the incident, the executive spent five months in jail on charges of obstructing aviation safety. She too no longer holds any positions at Korean Air, Jin Air or its affiliates but can now be known as the oldest of the “tantrum sisters”.