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Malaysia Airlines Scraps Partnership With Cathay Pacific Amid Inflight Catering Glitch

A Malaysia Airlines A350. (Photo: AirlineGeeks | Ben Suskind)

Malaysia Airlines and Cathay Pacific Airways have fallen short of deepening their cooperation after scrapping the plan to share revenue and costs as well as pricing and schedules for flight operations between Malaysia and Hong Kong. Both airlines have gotten into gear and recorded a profit after the pandemic.

The potential agreement was first revealed in May 2022. The pair originally requested to receive an exception from Malaysia’s competition law. The agreement concerned Hong Kong’s Competition Commission, who worried it would reduce competition and make it difficult to lower air fares or improve services industry-wide.

Cathay Pacific said the plan was scrapped due to “commercial considerations” in July.

“Cathay Pacific has fully complied and cooperated with the authorities in Hong Kong and Malaysia throughout this process,” Hong Kong’s carrier said.

The pair currently operate Kuala Lumpur – Hong Kong with three to four times a day and Penang – Hong Kong with five times a week. In addition, AirAsia and Batik Air Malaysia offer flights between Malaysia and Hong Kong as well.

Inflight Catering Chaos

Meanwhile, Malaysia Airlines is currently facing inflight catering problems. The flag carrier terminated its agreement with Brahim’s Food Services (BFS) on Aug. 31, but the airline hasn’t inked a new deal with another catering company afterward. As a result of the suspension, special meals, pre-booked meals, and the Chef-on-Call services are halted.

Earlier, the airline said that it will activate its Business Continuity Plan for inflight meal services on selected routes, including the sourcing of pre-packed meal and F&B supplies from multiple providers. The airline emphasized that the meal will meet the standard set by Civil Aviation Authority of Malaysia and the Ministry of Health.

During the transition, passengers are allowed to bring their own food and drinks on board. Malaysia Airlines has made a contingency plan with POS Aviation. The carrier admits 20% of its flights delaying due to the catering. The delivery of the food becomes a challenge, the Kuala Lumpur International Airport facing a shortage of high-lift truck to deliver the catering.

According to local media, short-haul passengers will be provided baked foods, candy, biscuits, and beverage as a “revised menu” will be given to the long-haul passengers. However, the contingency plan left some passengers frustrated. The dissatisfied passengers have vented their disappointments on social media.

Brahim’s Holding Bhd (BHB), BFS’ parent company, has invested heavily in the past years and is looking forward to negotiating with the flag carrier again. BHB holds 70% stake in BFS, and Malaysia Airlines holds the remaining 30%. The carrier demands a new termination for convenience clause in the contract extension between both parties. But BHB denied the new terms and emphasized a party could terminate the contract at least 30 days in advance.

Brahim currently provides catering services to 35 airlines, including Qatar Airways, Emirates and Japan Airlines. Malaysia Airlines contributed 50% of BFS’s income.

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