Asiana Squeezed Caterers Beyond Capacity

  • By Jeon Soo-yong

    July 04, 2018 12:05

    Asiana Airlines' failure to supply meals for most flyers in recent days was due to its selection of a new caterer who was in no position to meet its demand.

    Asian hastily signed a contract to supply 25,000 meals within 15 days with a catering company that was capable of preparing only 3,000 meals a day at the time. It is customary for airlines to give catering companies at least six months of preparation time.

    Asiana said Tuesday that it signed the three-month supply contract with Sharp DO&CO Korea last month after its 15-year supply deal with LSG, an affiliate of German carrier Lufthansa, expired.

    The airline initially signed a fresh contract with Gate Gourmet Korea, an affiliate of China's HNA Group, but a fire broke out in March at a new GGK factory it was building in Korea and the deal fell through. 

    A passenger shows service vouchers provided by Asiana Airlines as compensation for failing to serve an inflight meal at Incheon International Airport on Tuesday. /Yonhap

    The only other catering companies capable of supplying in-flight meals here are LSG and Sharp DO&CO. Asiana tried to extend its contract with LSG for three months but was rebuffed.

    Sharp DO&CO tried to meet the quota by joining hands with another company that supplied meals for cabin crew, but there was not enough time to prepare for the massive volume and it also lacked the vehicles to deliver the meals.

    An Asiana staffer said, "There were no problems apparent in the company," which was a joint venture between Korea's Sharp and Europe's DO&CO. "We even held rehearsals, and then problems became apparent from the packaging to delivery processes." That meant one flight after another was delayed while waiting for meals, while many short-haul flights provided no meals at all.

    Kim Soo-cheon, president and CEO of Asiana Airlines, posted an apology on the carrier's website and said, "Unexpected confusion has occurred in the process of packaging and transporting in-flight meals. We sincerely apologize to our customers for the inconvenience."

    An industry insider said, "Departures and arrivals on schedule are crucial for a carrier, and Asiana ended up tarnishing its image with this blunder."

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