July 05, 2018 12:00
Kumho Asiana Group chairman Park Sam-koo publicly apologized on Wednesday for Asiana Airlines' spectacular blunder that left it unable to serve in-flight meals on most flights early this week.
"I feel a deep sense of responsibility for causing anxiety to the public," Park told reporters at Asiana headquarters in Seoul. He added he feels "morally responsible" for the suicide of the head of a small catering company that was subcontracted by the overextended main supplier.
"We made efforts to deal with the issue by reaching out to our competitors for help but were unable to resolve the problem," Park said. "In the end, the fault lies with management and myself, who failed to forecast demand."
But Park denied a link to the debacle with an investment of W160 billion in Asiana from China's HNA Group.
HNA owns Gate Gourmet Korea, which was newly contracted to supply in-flight meals after Asiana let its contract with a Lufthansa-owned caterer lapse.
But then GGK suffered a factory fire, which forced Asiana to turn in haste to Sharp DO&CO, which at the time only had the capacity to supply 3,000 in-flight meals a day rather than the 25,000 Asiana needs.
Park also denied reports that he and his family members were served hot meals on Asiana flights even though other passengers were given none. "No instructions were given to supply meals to certain flights," he claimed.
Amid the massive scandal engulfing rival Korean Air, Park was also forced to deny nepotism in the appointment of his daughter as an executive at affiliate Kumho Resort, insisting that she got the job purely on merit. "Women are actively taking part in the workforce," he added.
As some Asiana staff plan to a protest against inept management over the weekend, he urged them to focus on containing the in-flight meal fiasco instead.
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