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Deep bow and suicide after pax go hungry on int’l flights

July 27, 2018 Headline News No Comments Email Email

The chairman of Korea’s Asiana airlines has bowed deeply and apologised, and a subcontractor has committed suicide, after a fiasco that saw flights take off without in-flight meals.

Asiana Airlines says it will compensate passengers on about 100 flights affected by the in-flight meal debacle that delayed about 100 international flights earlier this month and caused some passengers to go hungry.

The problem started when Asiana, Korea’s second-largest airline, ended a 15-year-old deal with Lufthansa’s LSG Sky Chefs after a dispute earlier this year over finance.  The airline then selected a new catering firm – a subsidiary of Chinese conglomerate HNA Group.

Fate then took a strange twist and a fire broke out at the new caterer’s plant, forcing Asiana to turn to a smaller firm of caterers – which proved unable to keep up with the airline’s daily demand, the Japan Times reported.

As a result, the owner of one of the subcontractors took an extreme step and committed suicide, saying he felt he was being pressed to take responsibility for being unable to fulfil the quota.

“My father and his colleagues worked more than 28 hours nonstop to prepare meals, but the demand from contractors put too much pressure on them,” the subcontractor’s son told JTBC TV. The revelation prompted public fury, directed at the airline.

An abject apology followed.

“I am sorry for causing public concern over Asiana’s in-flight meal crisis,” Park Sam-koo, chairman of Kumho Asiana Group, Asiana’s parent company, told assembled media.

“I also feel very sorry about the tragedy involving the owner of one of our subcontractor suppliers and offer my deepest apology to his family,” he said, bowing deeply in front of cameras.

Asiana Airlines will refund 10% of the ticket price to paying customers who flew without meals or whose flights were delayed by more than an hour due to meal shortage. Passengers who used mileage to buy their tickets will be offered a 10% refund on the points. A 20% refund has been offered to customers whose flights were delayed by more than four hours.

Most of the flights affected were to Japan and China. Korea Joongang Daily estimates compensation is likely to cost the airline as much as KRW 1 billion (about AUD 1.2 million).

Written by Peter Needham

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