Malaysia Airlines (MH, Kuala Lumpur International) has taken delivery of ten new hi-lift trucks, helping break a logistical log jam at Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA) that prevented the timely delivery of catering to aircraft. The airline also says hot meal services have resumed on flights impacted by the recent catering challenges.

The airline's longstanding catering contract with Brahim's Food Services (BFS) ended on August 31, 2023, after contract renewal talks failed to resolve an impasse concerning certain clauses. No new catering contract with an alternative supplier was in place. While some other food service providers with smaller catering contracts with the airline, including Pos Aviation Sdn Bhd and MAS Awana Services Sdn Bhd, were able to service some routes, inflight catering on many other routes was scaled back as the airline struggled with securing a supplier and then getting the provisions on and off aircraft.

Malaysia Airlines still needs to resolve its supplier situation but says it is proactively enhancing and fine-tuning its pre-packaged meal components during the interim period. The airline aims to restore full meal service on all routes by mid-November. However, the arrival of the hi-lift trucks (with ten more to come) does help solve another challenge.

"The hi-lift trucks are an essential part of the overall airline inflight meal process in upholding food quality and safety standards," a September 15 statement from Malaysia Airlines reads. "They ensure that the meal carts are uplifted at the correct temperatures, preserving the freshness of hot and ambient meals, while also maintaining stringent practices throughout the process. In the absence of the hi-lifts, Malaysia Airlines temporarily suspended hot meal offerings to ensure food safety is not compromised."

The airline has set up a temporary distribution centre at KLIA to manage the assembly of catering items by respective suppliers and uplifting those meal boxes onboard via hi-lift trucks. Since September 1, Malaysia's revised inflight meal offerings on routes previously served by BFS have included ready-to-go boxes with pre-packaged pastries, chocolates, biscuits, and drinks or hot meals in disposable containers "presented on a simplified tray setup."

Since then, passengers flying to South Asian, North Asian and Australian destinations continue to receive what the airline calls "simplified hot meals", while the situation has changed on specific sectors within Southeast Asia, with hot meals now being rolled out across different cabin classes on different routes over different dates. Flights to Auckland International, Tokyo Narita, Tokyo Haneda, London Heathrow, Madinah, and Jeddah International are not impacted, with POS and MAS Awana provisioning these long haul routes.

Malaysia Airlines has received considerable criticism from local media outlets and passengers after it let its catering contract lapse without a replacement lined up. The airline's parent entity, the Malaysia Aviation Group, began re-negotiating the BFS contract in November 2022, with BFS later accusing the airline of attempting to insert unconscionable and unreasonable clauses. MAG denies this, saying it remains committed to delivering a premium customer experience through its service providers and suppliers.