The Korea Herald


Korean Air’s Cho Won-tae survives proxy vote, remains CEO

Shareholders OK Cho’s leadership despite NPS’ veto

By Yim Hyun-su

Published : March 26, 2021 - 15:23

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President of Korean Air Woo Kee-hong hosted the airline’s 59th shareholders meeting at its headquarters in Seoul. (Korean Air) President of Korean Air Woo Kee-hong hosted the airline’s 59th shareholders meeting at its headquarters in Seoul. (Korean Air)
Cho Won-tae, CEO of the nation’s flag carrier Korean Air and its holding Hanjin Group, has been reappointed to lead the company, despite the country’s pension fund operator’s disapproval in doing so.

Shareholders in attendance at the meeting on Friday, or those who had submitted a proxy statement in advance, represented 56.91 percent in terms of shares. Nearly 83 percent of the shareholders with voting rights voted in favor of Cho, the company said.

The National Pension Service, South Korea’s largest public pension fund operator and major shareholder of the airline with an 8.52 percent stake, had earlier claimed that Cho’s leadership may infringe upon shareholders’ rights as it may loosen the supervisory functions on the airline’s acquisition of rival Asiana Airline.

Woo Kee-hong, president of the airline, explained the company’s decision to acquire its longtime rival Asiana on behalf of Cho, who was absent from the meeting.

“We decided to take over Asiana Airlines to overcome the crisis facing South Korea’s aviation industry and create a base for long-term growth,” Cho was quoted as saying in Woo’s address.

“The related processes are taking place without setbacks.”

Cho also vowed to expand responsive measures to deal with the post-pandemic era.

“The prospect of the aviation industry this year is not promising. Just like last year, the uncertainty surrounding COVID-19 continues and it has been said that air travel demand will only recover to pre-coronavirus levels in 2024.

“We will put our best efforts into strengthening our competence to prepare for the post-pandemic era,” he said.

Hanjin KAL, Hanjin Group’s holding company which owns Korean Air, also held an annual shareholders meeting on Friday at its office in Seoul.

During the meeting, shareholders voted to pass resolutions including a role separation of the CEO and the chairman of the board, prohibiting the board of directors of having a membership comprising only one gender and launching an ESG committee within the board.

Korean Air’s sister airline Jin Air also held an annual shareholders meeting in which Hwang Chan-hyun, a representative lawyer of law firm Class was appointed as a new outside director.

By Yim Hyun-su (