An airline catering company at Chek Lap Kok has laid off more than 100 workers - a third of its staff - after Cathay Pacific decided not to renew its contract. Gate Gourmet, founded in 1998 and with 300 employees, had been handling airline meals for seven Europe-bound flights operated by Cathay Pacific, accounting for more than half its business volume. Last night Cathay, the company's main client, refused to say if the pilots' dispute was a factor and said that the move was a commercial decision. The Staff and Workers' Union of Hong Kong Civil Airlines attributed the lay-offs partly to the continuing industrial action by Cathay pilots, and also to the sluggish economy. 'When business was in good shape, Cathay couldn't handle it all so it contracted work out to Gate Gourmet,' union secretary Lam Hung-cheung said. 'But now Cathay is having its own difficulties due to the overall economic downturn and the pilot strike, it has cancelled the contract.' Mr Lam also criticised the Government for introducing a third catering company - after Cathay's own service and Lufthansa service Sky Chefs. 'Gate Gourmet was brought in in 1998 because the Government anticipated an increase in the number of users when the new airport opened,' he said. '[But] the economy has slumped and usage rates have shrunk.' Mr Lam said the union would now get in touch with redundant workers to see how it could help. A spokeswoman for Cathay Pacific confirmed that the airline did not renew the contract with Gate Gourmet at the end of a two-year term ending last month. She refused to give a reason. Cathay has been in dispute with its pilots over pay and conditions since July. The spokeswoman said Cathay's catering service could cope with up to 80,000 meals a day, but was only handling half this capacity at the moment. Its in-flight kitchen at Chek Lap Kok is the largest in the world. A Gate Gourmet statement said: 'We deeply regret the need to reduce some of our workforce with effect from September 2 due to the considerable decrease in our business. 'This is a very last resort for us under the very difficult situation.' The company promised to compensate redundant staff according to labour laws, but some workers complained the terms were unfair and said they would approach labour officials. People affected can call a special hotline set up by the Tsuen Wan Labour Department Employment Service Centre on 2464 4556.