November 12, 2018

Dining in the Air and Airport

The logistics of catering to travellers in-flight and in-transit is part science, part sensory management. Susan Reynard reports.

Catering for travellers in the air and the airport requires particular understanding of their needs and specialised facilities and systems. Comair launched its own catering operation, Food Directions, in 2012 to simplify processes, increase control and reduce costs, while providing customers onboard its British Airways and flights with top quality, fresh and tasty food.

The HACCP compliant, bespoke kitchens in Jet Park just outside OR Tambo International Airport in Johannesburg and Airport Industria outside Cape Town International Airport have been specially designed for maximum productivity and best hygiene practices. Comair CEO Erik Venter says Food Directions prepares on average 210 000 complete meals per month for Comair’s airline brands – British Airways and – while around 100 000 meals per month are prepared for its various SLOW Lounge outlets. The company averages 2.5 meal items per passenger, which is an average of 775 000 meal items per month.

Erik says the onboard menu is created in a staged approach. “Before recipes are considered, a concept meeting is held whereby current trends and ideas are discussed. In this meeting, we also decide whether the concepts are viable for onboard. Once the concepts are set in place, the recipes are created and various trials are conducted. The recipes are then entered into a live system where the chef has access to the entire product database. As it is a live system, the prices for every item are updated immediately so current menu prices can be obtained. The meals are then presented to a panel and they are deemed as a ‘fly’ or ‘no fly’.

Continue reading in Issue 09 of SA Chef, here: