Korean Air chief steps aside from affiliates

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Korean Air chief steps aside from affiliates


Cho Won-tae

Cho Won-tae, president of Korean Air and eldest son of Cho Yang-ho, the chairman of owner Hanjin Group, will relinquish his titles at all group affiliates except for the airline in an effort to improve transparency in Hanjin’s businesses, Korean Air said Thursday.

President Cho will step down from roles at five Hanjin affiliates: Hanjin KAL, Jin Air, the Korea Airport Service, Uniconverse and Hanjin Information Systems & Telecommunication.

Cho will also withdraw his privately-held stake in Uniconverse and donate the stocks to Korean Air.

Other members of Hanjin Group’s owner family, including Chairman Cho and Cho Hyun-ah, former executive vice president of Korean Air, will do the same.

The move follows a Fair Trade Commission report last year that found Korean Air had offered favorable contracts two Hanjin affiliates, Cybersky and Uniconverse, that were formerly owned by the children of Chairman Cho. The commission fined the affiliates 1.4 billion won ($1.2 million) and referred Korean Air President Cho Won-tae to the prosecution for investigation.

Before relinquishing his titles, Cho served as president of the group’s holding company, Hanjin KAL, from 2014 and has overseen business management at core affiliates.

Last year in March, he became president of the Korea Airport Service and started heading the group’s low-cost carrier, Jin Air, in April. This January, Cho was promoted to president of Korean Air.

The company expects Cho’s abdication of his roles to remove accusations of unfair trade practices among group affiliates and help Hanjin become more transparent.

“President Cho Won-tae will now focus on the core business of Korean Air while adopting a more transparent business environment,” a Korean Air spokesperson said.

BY KIM JEE-HEE [kim.jeehee@joongang.co.kr]
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