Korean Air Chairman Cho Yang-ho Dies After Battle With Illness

The chairman of Korean Air, one of Asia’s biggest airlines, has passed away in the US, the company said.

Korean Air said in a statement that Cho Yang-ho, 70, died at a hospital in Los Angeles on 7 April, without providing further details.

His leadership was overshadowed by several family scandals, including the infamous ‘nut rage’ incident.

Mr Cho, who was on trial for corruption, was ousted from the company board in March.

His son Cho Won-tae, Korean Air’s president, is expected to succeed him as chairman, the Financial Times said.

The Cho family made international headlines after a “nut rage” incident in 2014 involving Cho Hyun-ah, the eldest daughter of Cho Yang-ho – who is also known as Heather.

Ms Cho flew into a fury on a Korean Air flight leaving New York for South Korea when the macadamia nuts were served in a packet, and not on a plate. She ordered the crew to return the taxiing plane to its gate, and had the chief steward removed.

Cho Hyun-ah faced trial over the incident in South Korea, and was convicted of violating aviation safety, coercion, and abuse of power in 2015. She served five months in prison.

Mr Cho’s other daughter, Cho Hyun-min, left her position in the company after she allegedly splashed water in a colleague’s face during a meeting.

The businessman himself was then charged with embezzlement and breach of trust in 2018. He denied all charges, but it led to his eventual ousting from the board of Korean Air in March.

The scandals reopened a national debate about Korea’s business landscape, which is dominated by family firms known as chaebols.

Cho Yang-ho was the first founding family member of any major South Korean company to be forced off a board, according to media reports.

Some saw his forced departure from the company board as a victory for those trying to curb the power of the chaebols.