Asiana hopes new supplier will solve meal troubles

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Asiana hopes new supplier will solve meal troubles

Asiana Airlines is expected to solve its problems with in-flight meals starting next month after the large catering company Gate Gourmet Korea opens a facility in Incheon.

According to industry sources on Thursday, Gate Gourmet Korea’s new factory on Yeongjong Island, Incheon, was licensed by the Korea Customs Service last week and is expected to start offering food to Asiana on Sept. 5.

Factories that produce in-flight meals need to be licensed by the country’s customs authority as bonded area for efficient cargo management and customs administration.

Gate Gourmet Korea was supposed to supply meals to Asiana starting in the beginning of July, but couldn’t do so after a fire broke out during construction of the factory in March. Asiana then inked a temporary three-month contract with much smaller meal supplier Sharp DO & CO.

The decision resulted in chaos as Sharp DO & CO, used to supplying only 3,000 meals a day, failed to provide the 20,000 or 30,000 meals Asiana needed last month. On the first day of July, 51 out of 80 international Asiana flights departing from Incheon were delayed and 36 were ultimately left without in-flight meals.

The situation was slowly remedied, as both Asiana and Sharp DO & CO made sure no flights were delayed anymore due to lack of meals by the end of July. However, some flights still do not offer full in-flight meal options. As for first and business class customers, in-flight meals that used to be a course with appetizers, main dishes and desserts are served on a single tray.

An Asiana spokesperson said Gate Gourmet Korea has made it a goal to start offering food from Sept. 5, but that date is not yet fixed. Talks with Sharp DO & CO are still ongoing as well as their temporary contract was supposed to last until the end of September.

Industry insiders expect that Asiana’s meal problems will be solved soon as Gate Gourmet Korea takes over meal catering, but the airline remains cautious.

“Gate Gourmet Korea could contribute to normalizing meal supplies, but we will have to see if it can serve meals like our former partner LSG Sky Chefs right away,” the spokesperson added.

LSG Sky Chefs was Asiana’s in-flight meal caterer for 15 years, but the airline ended its contract with LSG on June 30.


BY KIM JEE-HEE [kim.jeehee@joongang.co.kr]

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