Asiana Suing KTVU Over Racially-Offensive Fake Pilot Names

SEOUL, South Korea (CBS/AP) — Asiana announced Monday that it will sue a San Francisco Bay Area TV station that it said damaged the airline’s reputation by using bogus and racially offensive names for four pilots on a plane that crashed earlier this month in San Francisco.

Meanwhile, a summer intern who confirmed the erroneous names for the pilots of Asiana Airlines Flight 214 is no longer an intern with the National Transportation Safety Board, a government official with knowledge of the situation said Monday.

The official wasn’t authorized to comment about personnel matters and spoke on condition of anonymity.

An anchor for Bay Area Fox affiliate KTVU-TV read the names on the air Friday before apologizing for the error after a break. The report was accompanied by a graphic with the phony names listed alongside a photo of the burned-out plane that crashed July 6at San Francisco International Airport, killing three people and injuring dozens.

Video of the report has spread across the Internet since it was broadcast.

The NTSB said in a statement Friday that the intern erroneously confirmed the names “outside the scope of his authority.” Neither the station nor the NTSB has said where the names originated.

Asiana has said the TV report “badly damaged” the reputation of the airline and its pilots.

Asiana has decided to sue KTVU-TV to “strongly respond to its racially discriminatory report” that disparaged Asians, Asiana spokeswoman Lee Hyomin said. She said the airline will likely file suit in U.S. courts.

Asiana decided not to sue the NTSB because it said it was the TV station report, not the U.S. agency, that damaged the airline’s reputation. Lee did not elaborate.

NTSB spokeswoman Kelly Nantel said the agency does not discuss specific personnel matters but has taken “appropriate action to deal with the situation.” She said interns in the agency’s public affairs office are unpaid.

KTVU Vice President and General Manager Tom Raponi said in a statement that the station would not make any further comment because of the airline’s threat of a lawsuit.

The four pilots, who underwent questioning by a U.S. and South Korean joint investigation team while in the U.S., returned to South Korea on Saturday. South Korean officials plan to conduct separate interviews with them, South Korea’s Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport said.

(Copyright 2013 by CBS San Francisco. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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