Korean Air has announced in an official statement that Cho Yang-ho, chairman and CEO of Korean Air, has passed away on 7 April in Los Angeles.
The news comes less than two weeks after shareholders voted to remove Cho from the board following a number of family scandals.
At the time of his passing, Cho was scheduled to go on trial in South Korea for multiple charges, which includes tax evasion and embezzlement. With his death, the court is expected to dismiss his criminal case.
Credited as the driving force behind Korean Air’s catapult onto the global stage, Cho took over as chairman and CEO of the airline from his father back in 1999. A year later, Cho went on to become the founder of the SkyTeam airline alliance.
Despite his success in transforming Korean Air into a world-renowned carrier, Cho’s career is marred by a series of family scandals that includes the now infamous “nut rage” incident.
Back in 2014, Cho Hyun-ah, the eldest daughter of Cho Yang-ho, assaulted two Korean Air flight attendants for serving her nuts in a bag instead of a bowl. When the incident became public, Cho Hyun-ah resigned as vice-president of Korean Air and was later found guilty in a South Korean court for obstructing aviation safety. She was given a 10 months prison sentence but only spent a total of five months in jail.
Cho Yang-ho’s widow, Lee Myung-hee, who is the chairwoman of Shinsegae Group, is currently facing criminal charges for allegedly assaulting and verbally abusing her staff.
Cho Won-tae, Korean Air’s president and son of Cho Yang-ho, is widely-believed to succeed his father as chairman of the airline.