Cho Hyun-ah — also known as Heather Cho — faced charges on five counts, but was found guilty of the most serious: changing the route of a flight. Prosecutors had sought a 3-year sentence, but Cho had wished to receive a suspended jail term, Yonhap said.
Cho is the company’s former vIce president and the daughter of the firm’s chairman Cho Yang-ho. She resigned all her roles at Korean Airlines and its subsidiaries in the days after the incident.
On Dec. 5, when Cho raged at a senior crew member on a Seoul-bound flight while taxiing at New York’s John F. Kennedy airport. The source of her ire was that she was served macadamia nuts in a bag, as opposed to a plate.
Cho wanted the crew member to be removed from the flight, and ordered the pilot to turn back to the gate.
The incident caused outrage in South Korea, and sparked debate about the role of family-run conglomerates — or ‘chaebols’ — who are behind many of the biggest businesses in South Korea.
Prior to today’s ruling, Cho had submitted six letters of apology to the Seoul courtroom in an attempt to avoid jail.
However, Judge Oh Seong-woo today said: “It is questionable whether Cho truly feels remorseful. The so-called ‘nut rage’ case trampled on the integrity of humanity.”