This research aims in understanding the role and responsibility of in-flight catering in the process of offering quality food and services. The core approach is to comprehend all those aspects that are considered to attain enough excellence and meet the expectations of the consumers. In this context, to exemplify in-flight catering company, the paper chose Emirates
Flight Catering that has already established a strong niche of being one of the popular and most preferred in-flight catering companies all over the world.
In the process of the research, it has been discovered that there are many aspects that are important for a successful in-flight catering company to manage, in order to sustain in the international market. In this pursuit, determined recommendations are made as per the collected evidences and data from primary and secondary sources.
The basic distribution of this paper is in 6 chapters, where the Chapter 1 is the Introduction and gives details about the research. Chapter 2 is a detailed literature review about in-flight catering company, with the example withstand by Emirates Flight Catering. Chapter 3 is the research methodology that notes and establishes the need for primary data and the best way to collect the same. The chapter 4 makes declarations about the interview answers that were collected while initiating primary sources to meet research objectives. Chapter 5 is an exclusive way of analysing the primary and the secondary data to understand the research objectives and meet the goal of the research. The last chapter is Chapter 6 that is the conclusion and the recommendation chapter, illustrating the summed up derivations and possible adaptation provisions for in-flight catering company like, Emirates Flight Catering to sustain in the market with the current reputation of being a popular quality based company.
The industry of in-flight catering is a very huge global business. The estimated the size of the flight catering as noted by Jones (2004) was 12 billion Euros in the beginning of 21st century and as assessed by King (2013) it will reach up to 12.35 billion Euros by the end of 2018. With the increasing rate of global competitiveness, every sector of business and industrial growth is in demand of fast mode of transportation. In this pursuit, the preferences on selecting airline flights get an obvious selection. Following the trend of regular flights all over the world, most of the business or family oriented passengers prefer to have in-flight catering. This means that whether it is lunch of dinner they look forward for some good food in the flight to save time. This is a growing need and the same is encouraging various airlines in opting in-flight catering services to serve the customers at the best. If the food and beverages supplied turn up to be good enough and as per the expectations, that in no time the airline will earn customer loyalty of the expansion of the business.
This research is selecting the role of Emirates Flight Catering in context of Emirates Airline for the understanding of quality oriented in-flight catering services. The paper is majorly about the way in-flight catering gets handled by the selected company and how the same can be made better in terms of creating the essence of sustainability and long term business options for the respective airline with in-flight catering services. The emphasis is on quality maintenance and thus the research is about the way the quality can be attained in in-flight catering services amidst increasing global competitiveness in the market.
1.2 Title of the Research
Following the aforementioned research ideology the title of this research paper is –
‘QUALITY IN IN-FLIGHT CATERING: Emirates Flight Catering’
EKFC Company Information Page (2014) states that Emirates Flight Catering or the EKFC, under current facility, has been commissioned in the particular field of in-flight catering business; since 1982. This is a domain that gets upgraded and updated continually from that year. This is a company that is also related to the catering to other competitive airlines that are operating in the Dubai International Airport. As a whole, services led by this Company are more than 110 regularly operating airline clients. Additional divisions of EKFC are Event Catering, Linencraft, F&B Services (at the Airport), Private Jet & VIP Catering, and managing Food Point. However, its role in the in-flight catering dominates the business and gets quick acclamation. The basic field of concerns for EKFC in managing in-flight catering are noted below.
1.3.1 Availability of Freshest Ingredients
As declared by Emirates (2014), EKFC is very particular about its catering services. For this airline, EKFC offers lunch as well as dinner and all the meals are inclusive of varied courses that are customised and designed in order to stimulate and further satisfy the appetite of all kinds of customers. Selections were initiated from dishes that are inspired regionally, along with ingredients that are sources locally and are organic in particular, especially Lamb Brochette that has Arabic Spices, Grilled-Chicken Breast that is served with Caramelised Plums. Every customer is assured of enough relaxation with an entire range of in-flight complimentary drinks that are inclusive of best wines and different kinds of delicious cocktails. EKFC also provide the facility of having champagne in-flight at a very minimum price.
1.3.2 Food inspired from Regional Culture
In reference to the in-flight catering services of EKFC, Emirates (2014) declares that all the meals aimed in offering an absolute appeal to the palette of the customers. As per the appetite of the customers, the company is capable of offering absolute regional taste. These kinds of food add adequate relaxation and can restore the level of satisfaction in the customer’s appetite. Regionally inspired food are great in taste and are having the best healthy options, that are presented in fine bone china from Royal Doulton with exclusive cutlery from Robert Welch. The approach offers the dining experience of the Business Class with an ecstatic level of satisfaction. The EKFC takes special care of the children and as per their age and taste offers children’s meals with absolute chart of dietary needs, with absolute taste and nutrition.
1.3.3 Wines are chosen specifically
The in-flight catering by EKFC has been much appraised by the passengers of Emirates and as declared by this airline the customers’ have experienced best of the cuisines and services and has declared it as the finest in the world (2014). The customers are allowed to have multiple courses along with beverages and cocktails of every kind. To the customer’s delight, it also offers the customers with vintage wines, and above all complimentary champagne.
1.4 Research Aim
The main aim of this research is to find out the ways the quality is maintained in the in-flight catering. The idea is to note the rapidly growing business of in-flight catering and thereby understand the way it has been managed amidst vigorous edge of global competitive environment. As a case, a relevant study of Emirates Flight Catering or the EKFC has been selected with it maintained record on quality check.
1.5 Research Objectives
The selected objectives of this research can be noted as follows-
- Investigate the quality oriented approaches of Emirates Flight Catering or the EKFC
- Evaluate the collected quality related information about in-flight catering
- Derive best possible means for the achievement and maintenance quality in-flight catering
The research aims in offering a well-structured approaches towards the maintenance of quality of in-flight catering that is relevantly is also the key to add an extra profit to the reputation of the airline and adding customer loyalty to the same.
In an age when the stress of falling revenues gets coupled with increasing expectations of the customer, most of the airlines are seeking towards absolute improvement as well as process of reducing focus, quality and cost of the in-flight food and beverages. The objective is to offer enhanced services to add value to the experience of the customer. The trend of Inflight Catering demands serious management solution that is subject to get automated with end-to-end operations related to the in-flight services of the airline Wipro Technologies (2013). Airlines along with the caterers attempts to elaborate current rich experience and expectation of the passenger and concentrates in effective management of costs in catering.
The in-flight meal or the meal that is served in the flight to the passengers, who are on board, is usually recognised, especially in the domain of commercial airliner. All the in-flight meals are prepared by the airline catering services on a contractual basis. In accordance to quality and quantity there is a great variation in these meals (Jones, 2004b). Different airlines prefer different meal menus as per the kind of passengers that they get. In many cases, these meals are different as per class and companies that are involved in the business structure. The ranges can be noted from simple beverages in case of short-haul flight with economy class to an extension of seven-course exclusive gourmet meal for those who are in the long-haul flight with first class. There are various literatures that are dealing with the matter of catering, but very least is found with specification on quality oriented in-flight catering. This literature review is on those selected publications that are recognised for offering knowledge about the in-flight catering. However, to meet the research objectives, there is an additional effort made for understanding of Emirates Flight Catering, especially for Emirates Airline.
2.2 Growth of In-flight Catering
On a historical note, the foremost provisions for airline meals was initiated by Handley-Page flight, which was an airline company from 1919, and was involved in serving pre-packed lunch boxes for London-Paris flights (Smith, 2013). Further, the trend gets enhanced in the year 1936, when United Airlines made an exclusive installation of first on-board kitchens in order to offer the passengers with fast and hot meals. The approach attained immediate attention and appreciation and started flourishing at a greater speed. The entire business of in-flight catering was inspired and encouraged by the passengers and that added the extra business boon to the airline companies. As mentioned above in the Chapter 1, King (2013) in-flight services for catering services is a wide ranged market and is growing at a very faster pace. An in-flight meal gets interpreted as meal that gets served to the on-board passengers in the commercial airliner. These are the meals that are prepared by determined catering services of the airline. As forecasted by King, this is an industry that is sure to meet a value of 12.35 billion Euros or US$16.5 billion by the year 2018. This development is assured tin terms of adding efficient and newer airplanes with the same is liable to enhance capacity of the passenger, met the increasing demands for quality food, and innovative offerings on menus (Jones, 2004a).
2.2.1 In-flight Catering System
With the process of worldwide acceptance and valued preference for in-flight catering, a determined system has been figured out by Jones (2007) for a better comprehensive note of managing the core elements of in-flight catering. These elements are noted as the concerns related to the growing numbers of customers, the expanding markets, catering Specs. or the speculation, process of ordering and on-time delivery of the materials, assembly of the products or production in particular. There is also the involvement of transportations, uplift, on-board storage and the facilities for on-board storage. Addition of necessary services and the activities related to off boarding and wash-up are some of the necessary elements that are needed to be a part of the in-flight catering system for meeting the growing demands of such services. The Fig. 2 below shows that systematic connection between these elements and the way these get interwoven in offering a determined structure to the process of in-flight catering for any airline.
2.3 Major Stakeholdersof In-flight Catering
The industry involved in in-flight catering business comprises of five major stakeholders. It is necessary to note that without the basic knowledge of these stakeholders, it is difficult to initiate the authentic thread for this research. According to the Jones (2007) the key stakeholders can be illustrated as airlines or representatives; flight caterers or providers, suppliers to providers or airlines; fare-paying passengers and lastly the distributors.
2.3.1 Passengers as Stakeholders
For any airline, maintenance of the right balance among the diversity of in-flight customers is a difficult task. In this context the severity grows as the passenger gets recognised as the main stakeholder in promoting the business concerns related of in-flight catering. The entire category of these stakeholders, comprise of rich private sector entrepreneurs and employees, Government and public employees who are counted for long haul. Further there is the inclusion of passengers from the upper-middle class population of any region. These stakeholders are very active in pointing out the negative service oriented features and this must be offered with services as per their expectations and demands.
2.3.2 Airlines as Stakeholders
The airlines that have on-board services of in-flight catering are the second important stakeholders. These airlines are responsible for encouraging in-flight catering in accordance to the duration of flight, embarkation point and disembarkation point, concerns of ethnicity and nationality of respective passengers, provisions of seat class - as the economy, first or business . These stakeholders are in charge of negotiating the standard of in-flight catering as per their budget, food cost, seasonality, labour cost for creating the food, serving time, appointed flight attendants for serving food, time for consume food, consuming meal in a smaller place inside the plane, effort and time management for clearance of food item, meet the demands of the consumers, rethermalising meal and withstand pressures and low humidity over the meal (Jones, 2007). The airlines are one that takes the responsibility of in-flight catering with the essence of quality oriented services under varied services as followed under traditional format of the particular airline.
2.3.3 Caterers as Stakeholders
Caterers are the third important stakeholders in this business, they are important as they prepare necessary food items, especially when the food is not bought directly from the respective suppliers and to prepare the food for loading on-board and thereby to assemble trolleys and trays. The positioning of the flight kitchens are usually close to major airports and are meant for 'manufacture' consumable amount of food items (Jones, 2004b).
2.3.4 Suppliers as Stakeholders
The suppliers are liable to supply food for the in-flight catering. Firstly, there is the approach over the management of planned menus, whereby the supplier gets direct orders from respective, though the delivery to the flight kitchens get operated through the contracted caterers. The suppliers are important as they are the one who are involved in managing the quality of the in-flight catering. Any note of complain can create havoc to the entire reputation of the in-flight catering of the airline flight and there should not be any compromise at this stage.
2.3.5 Distributors as Stakeholders
The role of the distributors as stakeholders is related to the approach of global logistics, and moving all over the world in the containers, in general. Distributors are significant as they can provide services to either airlines or the respective caterers. The essence of offering quality food is very important as far as these distributors are concerned. Maintenance and transportation at their end must be followed technically to attain place amidst competitive business of in-flight catering
2.4 In-flight Catering: Key Challenges
There are some key challenges that need to be considered while considering the concerns of in-flight catering. These are the challenges that can turn severe once the airline attempts to meet the global competitiveness. The four notable challenges can be articulated as –
- Space Constraints against the Preferences of Customer
- Dynamic Mode of Changes
- Quality with enough Quantity
- Sharing necessary Food related Information
These are the basic issues that will are noted to remain vial in case of all kinds of in-flight business modules.
2.4.1 Space Constraints against Preferences
For any company that is into the business of in-flight catering it is necessary to understand the combination of space constraints of the galley as offered by the airlines in contrast to the preferences declared or expected by the Customer. Offering appropriate and right selection of meals over various routes, different kinds of aircrafts and configuration of galley is a very complex phenomenon that must be handled well by the catering company. These must get well considered in context of the kind of passengers that the airline is handling.
2.4.2 Dynamic mode of Changes
In the current scenario, Airlines are increasing at a faster pace and the routes and connecting spirit of the aircrafts are increasing at a very constant way. As a result, there is a highly competitive environment noted in case of in-flight catering by various airlines. Basic challenges are in the domain of planning the galley, customised meal, management of caterer, and meeting expectations of the end customer. An active participation at all these domains are significant in creating the profitable margin and customer loyalty for the airline.
2.4.3 Quantity and Quality
The balance between quality product and the quantity of food is another challenge that must be handled well by the in-flight catering company. Emphasis must be led over uplifting and maintenance of high quality meal with adequate quantity. Absolute maintenance of hygienic standards, especially in suiting the customer’s palate is very necessary. The complexity lies in maintaining the right kind of brand image by the company to get a positive feedback from the clients. In case there is any complaint from the customer, it is important to offer quick remedial solution. This is for the prevention of same kind of violations, is any in case of service in catering.
2.4.4 Sharing necessary Food relatedInformation
The caterers need to act as per the management of appropriate supply chain organised as per the norms of the airline. This remains imperative as the working of the caterer and the airline is very closely knitted. Therefore, integration made with caterers is very significant all over the networking approach of the airline company. It is critical to attain success in meeting service standards as per the expectation of the client, adequate amount of transparency can make the job much reliable. The application of allocating optimal inventory and automation of catering order with smooth invoice are the keys to be adopted for clearer settlement of the entire approach of sharing information with the customers.
2.5 Emirates Flight Catering
The selection of Emirates Flight Catering or the EKFC, hereafter, is very specific in context of this research paper. With a positive impression over the entire in-flight business of catering, this organisation stands as an ideal approach for any other upcoming company. According to the EKFC Home Page (2014) the total Emirates Flight Catering occupies 90% occupancy of Emirates airline and rest gets shared by Dubai Civil Aviation. This is the reason that this research is trying to interpret the in-flight business of catering module of EKFC in context of Emirates airline, in particular. It was by July 2007 that Emirates airline inaugurated the determined technology in the line of advanced mode of catering facility that has been dedicated towards the process of servicing flights that are under Emirates airline. The core aim of this facility is related to the application of a built-up area that is more than 56,000 m2 and has a total capacity of producing more than 115,000 meals every day. This has been counted as the largest volume of in-flight meal in the world. This is a feature that has attained higher levels of determined systematic automation comprising of electric monorail system that is 2.55km long in terms of transportation of the entire group of meal carts, system of bin conveyor in order to transfer the well hygienic and clean items from respective EKFC’s Ware-wash area to Departments Production and Operations, added by system of vacuum waste along with pipes having a length of more than 600m (EKFC, 2014).
Eventually it must be noted that the success of in-flight catering is possible when the customer attain right kind of food and ambience on-board. The element of excellence counts a lot in the performance of in-flight catering. Though there are additional factors, yet catering is the main element. This research aims to explore an integrated approach for the attainment of finest integrated in-flight catering solution that will be inclusive of meal planning, right kind of budgeting, load planning to the galley, addition of cost-effectiveness, etc. whereby a combined effort of all the aforementioned stakeholders remain vital in this context.
Chapter 3 Methodology
This chapter concentrates in the selection of the right research methodology and declares the ways through which the same gets initiated. It is important to note that there are many research designs for commencing the research methodology. However, for this research the research design is determined in accordance to the selected research objectives, and research aims. The selected methodological approach for this research is inductive qualitative methodology. In this approach the researcher collected data through answers, statements or opinion of samples participants and further analyses the same to meet research objectives.
3.2 Research Design
As the core objective of this research is to understand the module of in-flight catering offered by the Emirates Flight Catering, in context of the maintaining quality; the research design aims in collecting relevant data from reliable sources. The approach will investigate quality-oriented catering provisions of Emirates Flight Catering and then the same will be evaluated in accordance to the collected data related to in-flight catering. The idea is to derive the best way to attain success as well as in maintaining quality in-flight catering, in general. For this purpose the inductive approach is considered. Concentrations are led over human behaviour in proportion to the selected topic and thus implication of qualitative approach suits the research at the best.
The research design aims in offer data for analysis and makes the research rich in context and content, with subjective mode of derivations (Sahu, 2013). This is further subject to assist in getting illustrated data in accordance to the issues that appeared in the process managing quality-oriented in-flight catering.
3.3 Data Collection
Research methodology collects data to enhance knowledge that can make the researchers capable of comprehending and further illustrating resources and limitations of the resources, especially in accordance to the presuppositions as well as consequences of the selected research. Miller (1983) declared the process of data collection as the core way of identifying the potentialities of any research and advancing the same as per respective predetermined goals. To this declaration Clark et al. (1984) added that special attention should be led over the selection of questions that are fit to address necessary evidence that is generated in particular. Thus, it is through the process of data collection that the research methodology turns appropriate in connecting the research paradigm to the empirical implication.
The method of collecting data can be from both primary and secondary sources. The primary data is initiated only when the secondary data is unable to meet the research objectives. The secondary data are descriptive documents, like books, peer-reviewed journal articles, reports and official documents.
3.3.1 Secondary data
The secondary data get identified in the form of inconspicuous approach that can be gathered completely from academic literatures, research papers, reports, theories that are published already and are academically accepted. The secondary data are important as they enable the researcher in collecting necessary information from the review of the former literatures. In context of the current research the secondary data are collected from both university libraries and various online and electronic databases, authenticated officially. There are many peer-reviewed journal articles that are considered for the purpose of meeting the current research objectives. Books and various news and related reports are part of the secondary data sources.
3.3.2 Primary data
The primary data are collected when the secondary data appeared limited in context of quality-oriented in-flight catering provisions as led by Emirates Flight Catering, in particular. The researcher organises a meeting with officials who are handling the in-flight catering business and tried to collect necessary data to suit the current research objectives. The basic approach is to derive solution to the proposed enquiries related to the research. Primary data source allows the research to attain necessary scope for attaining accessibility of participant/s come with face to face interviews with the researcher. In this way the essence of reliability and authenticity increases towards the research approach.
3.4 Interviews against Questionnaires
After checking through the reliable secondary data, this research decides to collect some primary data by means of conducting interviews with airline flight kitchen associates from Emirates Flight Catering. This is decided as the questionnaire based answers are found to remain limited towards some of the quality oriented issue and in general is never enough to meet the key parameters of the research objectives. According to Hennink and Hutter (2011, p.108) isolated kind of research over questionnaires can hamper the context of reliability over the derived results. The approach of using questionnaire as a research tool tends to lower down the response rate and thus the research can suffer from explanations.
3.3.1 In-depth Interviews
The approach of in-depth interview is initiated on a one-on-one basis. The researcher conducted interviews with airline flight kitchen associates from Emirates Flight Catering, for a span of 30 minutes each. These interviews offered in-depth realisations of personal opinions; values and beliefs related to the quality oriented in-flight catering by Emirates Flight Catering. It is through these in-depth interviews that very rich information with enough specifications has been earned for the research. Interviews assisted in probing relevantly noted data that can uncover some of the hidden issues. Being loosely structured, the interview was capable of collecting data which were not possible through questionnaires. In this approach the interview is confirmed about the maintenance of personal confidentiality. As the respondents were free of any social or official pressure, the declarations helped in generating much authentic data.
3.5 Ethical Norms
While implementing qualitative research methodology through in-depth interview pattern, the current research is strictly following relevant ethical notions to avoid any sensitive issue related to the process of collecting data. This research is subject to follow ethical aspects under proper care and is absolutely away from any personal mode of bias, especially in terms of representing the collected data. Following the derivations of the literature review and the case studies related to the same field, the primary data is collected within restricted ethical domain of corporate laws and interpersonal connectivity with the in-flight catering business. There are instances, when the interviewees refused to name any particular person and the same is respected and no further persuasion is made in that regard. Further ethical norms of keeping personal information confidential and not to make declarations about any personal comment is maintained throughout the research process.
3.6 Research Limitations
In initiating this research, there were many limitations faced by the researcher. These were basically related to the process of maintaining authenticity, reliability and managing time with the research based targets and timeline. During the research, severe hurdles are faced in managing time.
On a conclusive note, the research methodology selected for this research is majorly qualitative in nature, especially in managing the data through diagrams and charts. The research methodology is qualitative inductive approach, whereby the investigation follows the selected case of quality-oriented in-flight catering provisions as led by Emirates Flight Catering.
Chapter 4 Findings
This chapter is about the derivations of the interview answers that were collected in context of the quality maintenance of food in-flight. All these answers are offered by airline flight kitchen associates of Emirates Flight Catering, who are already in the profession and are facing concerns and issues on a day to day basis. The approach is to collect genuine and authentic data without any partial comment or ideas bestowed upon the interviews. All the respondents are practical professional people and are much aware of the kind of importance of their interviews. The core aspects of investigations are based on Importance of In-flight Kitchens, Quality Maintenance, Concern of Hygiene, Food Making Process, In-flight Kitchen Issues and Management and Audit, in context of Emirates Flight Catering.
4.2 Importance of In-flight Kitchens
The interviewees mentioned about the provisions of having a kitchen in the flight by the airline itself and also declared that there is also the provision for offering contracts to the professionals from Emirates Flight Catering, for the quality oriented food to the passengers. The core emphasis is that a kitchen in the flight must be well handled by professionals from Emirates Flight Catering. For any airline there are issues of budget and tendency to incur more profit by offering somewhat mediocre food. However, if the airline decides to have professionals then there is every possibility of getting better food items for the passengers.
About the requirements for the maintenance of quality in the catering service, an interviewee states,“If I were to choose a flight kitchen, I would choose a company that serves ten flights rather than a company that serves to around 30 flights. This is due to the attention and accurate measure in which their operations will be performed.”
According to this declaration, the interviewee means that if the contract of in-flight catering should be offered to professionals from Emirates Flight Catering, but at the same time, it is important that the catering company handles lesser clients to check right quality of the food offered.
4.3 Quality Maintenance
In reference to the maintenance of quality of in-flight catering, the interviewees are of the views that the whole approach depends as per the production process, added by the means to collect raw materials. There is also the emphasis on the personal visits led by the flight kitchen representatives, even to the butchery to check quality product. According to a interviewee,
“Good flight kitchens are involved with developing the vendor; personally speaking we have been involved a lot with developing our vendors. Developing the vendor means strengthening your supply chain. Training is one of the most important aspects of flight kitchen.”
Moreover, from the interviews, it has been noted that the matter of quality in case of in-flight catering depends a lot in the process of managing hygiene and the price of the food. The taste and availability of different kinds of food, especially related to low cholesterol food, diabetic food, high fibre food, no seafood, vegetarian meal, Hindu meal, glutton free meal, etc; adds an additional edge to the quality standard of the food. It is important for the in-flight catering to offer the passengers with fresher food items, though in many cases meeting the same criteria is not possible, particularly for long-haul flights; there should be enough provisions of both cold and maintained temperature storages in the flight to prevent any trouble to the quality of the food.
4. 4 Concern of Hygiene
Issues related to the maintenance of hygiene in case of in-flight catering starts from the collection of raw materials to the production, storage, distribution and presentation process. Under the strict rules of consumer rights and consumer demands followed on global basis, the airlines must remain very particular about the hygiene of the food. Any instance of food poisoning in the flight can cause serious scandal and loss to the company. It is necessary to check the manufacturing and expirations dates in this matter.
Moreover, the maintenance of hygiene has been much specifically noted by an interviewee, in terms of handling clean and well washed kitchen equipment. It is mandatory for every airline to have the provision of cleaning the kitchen equipment by chemicals, effective soap solutions, cold and hot water to make them germ free and free of any harmful effect in the process of in-flight catering. For all the interviewees, the maintenance of hygiene is very important as a simple lack of the same can create negative association with the customer and thereby creating serious damage to the reputation of the company. It is sometimes hard to manage the kitchen equipment, if proper maintenance is not observed; yet the same is integral part of the catering process and should be under strict surveillance.
4.5 Food Making Process
The process of making food for the in-flight catering business is very important it is like the backbone of the entire catering provision. Participation of the professionals from Emirates Flight Catering, in this matter is very important and the same is necessary for the maintenance of quality and hygiene in the entire process of catering. The interviewees declared that there were instances of pre-preparation of food “two days in advance”. The reason for this is that, it is not possible for the catering group to “cook the meals and produce it as fast as it is required”. This is a definite common practice that is maintained under “clock precise mechanism” of catering for all kinds of in-flight catering services. However, in doing so the company are much chained by the regulations under the maintenance of highest standards quality like ISO9000 or the ISO2001. Concerns related to HACCP (or the Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point) emphasises a lot over the process of food preparation and thus the quality check at every step. The interviewees also stated that the entire process of making food for in-flight purposes undergoes in-house checking process too. In the words of a participant,
“All flight kitchens nowadays have their own in-house lab. If they are small time kitchens, then they go to an outside agency and get their food tested microbiologically. Microbiology is important because lot of food looks good to the eyes but you never know how contaminated it is with bacteria. Microbiology helps you determine the state of the food after a certain number of hours.”
4.6 In-flight Kitchen Issues
The concern of in-flight kitchen is a severe matter as there are clashes of cuisine seemed common among the passengers of Emirates Airline. There are some dominant issues of restricting pork (for the Muslims) and beef (for the Hindus) in the same kitchen. Further there are issues like halal and non-halal meat that offends most of the passengers in case of in-flight kitchen. For any catering company, it is a definite task to make separate arrangement in the same in-flight kitchen, due to space constrain. This is the reason that the basic approach of in-flight concentrates in offering European and American cuisine, with a specification over food items related to chicken and sea food.
4.7 Management and Audit
There are various scientifically upgraded provisions for the maintenance of food quality in the flight. It is a great concern to the entire crew of catering to maintain good food condition for passengers of all type. The very common approach is to maintain the right kind of temperature for the food and the same is managed as,
“For the right temperature we use dry ice slabs. These slabs do not cool the thing, it maintains the temperature. Many airlines now have their gullies or wheel carts which are plugged in by AHU power supply from the aircraft to chill the food when kept there.”
Special care gets bestowed upon long-haul flights. In context of flights with longer durations, an interviewee states,
“because no amount of dry ice will last for such a long time. So for the safety of the food, it is drilled around 200 times.”
These are though general practices on ground, but when it comes to in-flight catering such provisions are maintained to offer the customers with the beat possible food and services. This is the reason that all the interviewees were laying serious emphasis on the recruitment of professional people from Emirates Flight Catering, in the catering service. These professionals are well trained and understand the need and management of right food in the right condition.
In case of auditing the food items in-flight, the airlines must remain open to all kinds of queries.
Eventually, it can be stated that the business of in-flight catering is a difficult job as it need pure professional training and exclusive knowledge about the food quality maintenance, as in Emirates Flight Catering. Considering the in-flight catering as an integral part of any airline business it is an absolute need to have all kinds of facilities and provisions for the storage of the food. Specialised machines and storage systems for cold kitchen, hot kitchen, bakery and confectionary are mandatory requirements. As a whole there cannot be any room for comprising with quality of the food as the same is going to affect the reputation of the airline directly. The in-flight catering company thus must have well trained and well educated professionals to meet the legal and ethical norms of the business and thereby offering long term sustainability and consumer satisfaction, to the airlines in particular.