By Moon Ji-woong and Cho Jeehyun
South Korea’s transport ministry will hold a hearing session to decide whether to cancel the flight business license of Jin Air, a budget carrier under Korean Air Lines, for its violation of local aviation rules, the ministry said Friday.
The hearing is expected to take two to three months, further delaying the decision whether to revoke the license of Jin Air. The budget air has been facing potential heavy fines or the cancellation of its license after seating Cho Hyun-min on its board for six years. Cho, the youngest and controversial daughter of former Jin Air co-chief executive and Hanjin Group chairman Cho Yang-Ho, was found to be a U.S citizen, which makes her ineligible to hold a board position under Korean law.
Jin Air’s share price that started Friday strong headed down after the transport ministry’s announcement in the afternoon but recovered slightly to close at 25,300 won ($22.70), down 0.39 percent from the previous day’s close.
The transport ministry said that it also has launched a separate probe to identify and punish the governmental officials who permitted Cho’s appointment.
The ministry has been consulting with legal experts to decide on whether to revoke Jin Air’s flight license after discovering younger Cho served as board director between 2010 and 2016. It was expected to make a decision by Friday, at the earliest, but is taking more time as jobs of some 2,000 Jin Air employees are at stake. Industry experts estimate the job loss could grow to as many as 20,000 when including subcontractors.
Cho Hyun-min, as well as other Hanjin Group family members, came under a barrage of probes from authorities ranging from the transport ministry to fair trade commission after the youngest daughter was accused of throwing water at an ad agency employee during a business meeting. The incident sparked public anger, prompting government and prosecutorial investigations.