Backlash expected, MAG puts in place mitigation plan well before Brahim's ties ended

KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia Aviation Group (MAG) has anticipated the backlash that it is currently receiving from its passengers since Sept 1.

MAG has also put in place a plan to mitigate the operational hiccups well before its partnership with Brahim's Holdings Bhd ended. 

MAG group managing director Datuk Captain Izham Ismail said the Business Continuity Plan (BCP), which is now renamed MAG Catering (MCAT), had begun last Friday to facilitate its airline unit Malaysia Airlines Bhd to directly distribute in-flight meals to its aircraft. 

He said the in-flight meals for Malaysia Airlines' domestic and international routes are prepared by eight service providers that MAG had engaged.

They included Pos Aviation Sdn Bhd and the national carrier's sister company MAS Awana Services Sdn Bhd. 

However, the distribution of the meals, particularly on routes that were previously served by Brahim's in-flight catering unit Brahim's Food Services Sdn Bhd (BFS), are now being done by MAG's ground handling company AeroDarat Services Sdn Bhd (AeroDarat). 

Previously, BFS had not only prepared the in-flight meals for Malaysia Airlines but it also delivered the meals to the carrier's aircraft. 

MAG has a temporary distribution facility at Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA) where it sorts out cooked and packed in-flight meals to its respective aircraft.

"(The facility) is not a kitchen. We don't cook there. We don't even have the expertise to cook in-flight meals. We know our shortcomings.

"When we activate the MCAT, we know that we'll face hiccups. It will not be seamless," Izham said,.

He added that the flight delays that Malaysia Airlines has been experiencing due to the catering challenges is due to coordination. 

He said there were about 30 flight delays out of over 200 flights on Day One (Sept 1) of the operation. 

Currently, the number of catering-induced flight delays has been reduced to between seven and 10 following the improvement of the MCAT operation. 

The smooth operation of the transition is expected to be by end of this month once AeroDarat receives 10 new high lift trucks to carry and load containers with in-flight meals into Malaysia Airlines' aeroplanes. 

AeroDarat will receive another 10 new high lift trucks in October. 

The company had bought 20 new trucks in June this year from China to be added into its current fleet of four as the negotiations between MAG and BFS went south. 

"At no time MAG goes into this phase stupidly. We're aware of what would happen. We hope our consumers understand this phase that we're going through. It will not be forever. It will be a short duration of time," Izham said. 

He also said the catering-induced flight delays are affecting domestic and selected international routes that are under the MCAT operation.

The other routes, such as Doha, Tokyo, London, Kansai as well as the Australia sector are not affected by the catering-induced delays as the in-flight meals and distribution of the meals are handled by Pos Aviation.

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