San Francisco plane crash: Asiana Airlines will sue KTVU after TV station 'used racially offensive names' for the pilots

The airline claims that the incident seriously damaged Asiana's reputation

Asiana has announced that it will sue a San Francisco TV station it claims damaged their reputation by using bogus and racially offensive names for four pilots on a plane that crashed earlier this month.

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

Videos of the report went viral after the broadcast and has amassed hundreds of thousands of views.

The National Transportation Safety Board has also apologised, saying a summer intern erroneously confirmed the names of the flight crew.

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.

The airline argues that the report seriously damaged Asiana's reputation, although Asiana have decided not to sue the NTSB because it said it was the TV station report, not the U.S. federal agency that damaged the airline's reputation. The spokesperson did not elaborate further.

Neither the station nor the NTSB commented on where the names originated.

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

Additional reporting by agencies