SEOUL (KOREA HERALD/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) - Passengers travelling on South Korea's Asiana Airlines on Sunday (July 1) and Monday (July 2) had to endure unexplained departure delays stretching up to five hours, subsequently followed by a journey without in-flight meals.
On Sunday, 36 Asiana flights took off without meals and 51 flights were delayed out of the 80 planes scheduled for the day. The next day, 18 flew without meals and 20 were delayed out of 75 flights, according to the tally by Asiana Airlines.
Angry comments from hungry passengers took online platforms by storm, seeking explanation from the embattled airline.
The flurry of complaints from passengers came after Asiana had decided to forgo extending the contract with its supplier of 15 years LSG Sky Chefs, a subsidiary of German airline Lufthansa, and instead created a Korean arm of China's HNA Group's in-flight catering service, called Gate Gourmet Korea, in a joint venture to handle the next 30 years of in-flight meals.
A glitch occurred in March, however, when a fire at the new GGK plant hampered the supply schedule. Asiana then signed a three-month contract with a small firm with 68 employees, to begin from July.
The temporary supplier had reportedly handled some 3,000 in-flight meals per day for foreign flights, a scale falling far short of Asiana's typical service of some 25,000 meals a day.
Asiana has contended that the short-term supplier had ample capacity to produce the number of meals needed. But the logistics of transporting the meals to Incheon Airport had apparently not been worked out, resulting in many planes taking off without food.
The head of the small in-flight meal provider was found dead at his house on Monday, according to local media reports, Following the news of the CEO's death, online Korean communities were flooded with more angry comments against Asiana.
Asiana has yet to release a formal statement about the death.