he in-flight catering market has been forecast to hit a market value of US$19 billion in 2018, with the predominant market driver being the continued increase in air travel and passenger traffic.
The modern day in-flight catering market is now seen as a feast for the more luxurious of travellers. Gourmet binges at an altitude of 35,000 feet above sea level are the latest attraction for jet setters. Soggy rice, rubbery chicken and unappetising set meals have made way for sophisticated preparations by world-famous chefs Heston Blumenthal of Fat Duck, London, Vineet Bhatia of fabled London restaurant Rasoi and iconic chef Florian Trento of The Peninsula Hong Kong Hotel.
No longer is one worried about pre-set timings for breakfast, lunch or dinner. Travellers can order entrees, main course or desserts at any time of the flight and lap up gourmet delights devised by celebrity chefs.
As the competition heats up in the airline industry to attract and retain passengers, various airlines are devising innovative strategies that differentiate them from competitors and simultaneously allow them to operate at lower costs. Appropriate menu design and lightweight packaging solutions offered by in-flight catering companies are not only assisting airlines in building a strong brand image but also allowing significant savings through recycling programs and weight reductions.
However, cost pressures are forcing airlines to review their in-flight catering strategies. Fine wines and fine dining are giving way to the fine line between profit and loss. Each year airlines spend about 2-3% of total expenditure on catering. However, this cost centre is declining as airlines divest non-core activities in an effort to save money.
The growth of low-cost carriers has also influenced passenger expectations regarding catering. Many network airlines have subsequently dropped in-flight catering on short and mid-range flights. Cost reduction is only one of the advantages, less catering means less weight and hence better fuel consumption. Turnaround times also benefit.
For more information on the in-flight catering market, see the latest research:In-Flight Catering Market
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