PAX International Asia-Pacific June 2019

Page 1

Asia-Pacific Issue


New s and analy sis for the passenger ser vices executive

East meets West

Asia’s airlines and its suppliers are ready to welcome the world


PAX International 26 Pearl Street, Mississauga, Ontario L5M 1X2, Canada Tel: (1 905) 821-3344 Fax: (1 905) 821-2777 website:

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EDITORIAL OFFICES Rick Lundstrom, Editor-in-Chief PAX International 723 Jefferson Street, NE Minneapolis, MN 55413, USA Tel: (1 612) 378-0862 Fax: (1 612) 378-0852 E-mail: Rachel Debling, Managing Editor Tel: (1 905) 821-3344 x21 E-mail: Ash Khan, Social Media Coordinator Tel: (1 905) 821-3344 x30 E-mail: CONTRIBUTORS Jeremy Clark Mary Jane Pittilla

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ADVERTISING OFFICES Kevin Greene, Advertising and Marketing Manager Tel: (1 905) 821-3344 x31 E-mail: PAX International and PAX Tech are published a total of 10 times a year (January/February, March/April,

Asia in a microwave


efore PAX International turns its attention to the important fall issues that take up much of our summer work activity, we will visit a world across the Pacific Ocean and get an up-close glimpse of Shanghai, thanks to Asia Pacific Onboard Travel (APOT). Touching down in Shanghai is always exhilarating. Over the history of PAX International, this will be the third event that has taken us to the city. From the moment you arrive, it is a place that requires you to hold on as day-to-day life passes by at a dizzying pace. It might just be another Tuesday for Shanghailanders, but for anyone else it’s an experience. Strolling along The Bund should be the first stop. It’s where the city has its history and origins. From there the lazy tree-lined streets, shops and trendy restaurants of the French Concession offer a stark contrast to the pace of city life. At night, a little walking can take you to neon-lit streets that make the Las Vegas strip appear small by comparison. Our coverage for this year’s Asia issue is directed toward other regions, such as Thailand, Singapore and Vietnam. But all the stories reflect the amazing diversity and driving ambition of the nations from which they originate. The richness of their cuisine and their attention to food trends gave our Asia Correspondent, Jeremy Clark, much to be impressed with when he visited the THAIFEX event in Bangkok. From its attention to healthy meals to its awareness of global environmental issues, THAIFEX had its finger on the pulse of worldwide food trends and the pressures being brought to bear on the transportation sector. “Europe is a huge export market for Asia,” Clark writes. “And producers are waking up to the need to make improvements now, before they are forced to by law.” Much of that will be hashed out in the future. For now, I’m preparing to land at Shanghai Pudong Airport with the expectation of seeing life at its familiar breakneck pace and acquaint myself again with a nation that will play a big role in shaping the future of the industry where we work.

May, June, July, September, October, December) by PAX International, 26 Pearl Street, Mississauga, Ontario L5M 1X2, Canada. International Distribution. Subscriptions: $200 for one year; $300 for two years; $400 for three years. Art and photographs will not be returned unless accompanied by return postage. The views expressed in this magazine do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of the publisher or editor. January/ February 2018, Vol. 25, No. 1. Printed in Canada. All rights reserved. Nothing may be reprinted in whole or in part without written permission from the publisher. © PAX International magazine

ISSN 1206-5714 Key title: Pax International

Rick Lundstrom Editor-in-Chief PAX International









NEW FOCUS, SAME HIGH QUALITY With its recent foray into the larger food service market, Bangkok Air Catering has its sights set on satisfying the unique needs of customers and passengers around the world A PASSION FOR FOOD FASHION Global air services provider dnata is set to uplift 120 million meals this year. Senior Vice President Robin Padgett reveals the secrets of its inflight success COMMITTED TO QUALITY Vietnam Airlines Caterers is an Asia-Pacific success story 25 years in the making. PAX investigated where the company came from and what’s ahead for its ambitious team


In addition to a double-digit increase in daily production, the new addition to the SATS catering complex in Singapore is outfitted with technological efficiencies developed through collaboration and innovation



18 Asia-Pacific Issue


Asia’s airlines and its suppliers are ready to welcome the world

16 18


Learn about the latest Asian flavors correspondent Jeremy Clark discovered during his recent trips to Thailand and Vietnam.

Departments EDITOR’S NOTE




4  JUNE 2019

TRENDS REPORT A NEW ASIAN AWAKENING Jeremy Clark, Pax International’s Asia Correspondent, reports on the latest food trends from Thailand and Vietnam


New s and analy sis for the passenger ser vices executive

East meets West

WHAT DOES THE FUTURE HOLD FOR THE AIRLINE CATERING ASSOCIATION? The new organization is into its second year, and according to Managing Director Fabio Gamba it shows no signs of slowing down

WONDERS OF THE SKY Award-winning carrier Japan Airlines proudly showcases meticulous attention to detail in all areas of the cabin experience



Airlines, caterers and suppliers were honored in Hamburg this April at the 2019 PAX International Readership Awards. Join us in celebrating our winners!


This year’s 2019 APOT forum is being held in Shanghai – a new venue for the ambitious industry organization – and promises to deliver plenty of networking opportunities and thought-provoking discussions about the future of the region

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Discover our appetite for perfection at At Emirates Flight Catering, we serve over 180,000 meals a day, each WYLWHYLK WYLJPZLS` [V [OL ]LY` OPNOLZ[ Z[HUKHYKZ >L VќLY H ]HYPLK international menu for customers to choose from, put together by the crème de la crème of chefs. So when it comes to making the world feel at home, the sky is not the limit for us.



ANA will increase its Honolulu flights to daily starting in July

JAL adds new short-haul menu and burger offering The JAL Kitchen Gallery in Japan Airlines’ Premium Economy and Economy Classes now features an original inflight meal supervised by Chef Masahiro Kasahara, owner chef of Sanpi Ryoron Restaurant in Ebisu, Tokyo. After working at Shinjuku City’s Shogatsuya Kiccho restaurant for nine years, he inherited his father’s yakitori restaurant “Torisho,” located in Musashi-Koyama, Tokyo. In 2004, he closed the restaurant after celebrating its 30th anniversary and opened his own restaurant, Sanpi Ryoron. With creative and original menus, the restaurant became one of the most popular in Japan. JAL has also launched a new AIR MOS Teriyaki Burger. The meal will be served on select flights from Japan to Europe, North America and Australia. The AIR MOS series, a collaborated effort between JAL and MOS BURGER, launched in 2011 and has featured the Teriyaki Burger, Yakiniku Rice Burger and Cream Cheese Teriyaki Burger. The AIR MOS Teriyaki Burger, the companies’ ninth collaboration, is a popular item at the fast-food restaurant featuring an original teriyaki sauce with crispy lettuce.

Japan Airlines’ curry bowl with black sesame seed potato salad


ANA upgrades Economy Class offerings for HNL route All Nippon Airways has a new Economy Class menu for passengers flying from Tokyo to Honolulu, created through collaboration with bills, an Australian all-day diner founded by Bill Granger, a self-taught cook and restaurateur. As one of the many inflight services of the Tokyo Narita to Honolulu route, the new menu will feature two meal options that will be changed every three months. The menu incorporates various cooking techniques such as pickling and marinating. The collaboration menu began on May 24 and will run for one year. Passengers will also receive a special card for one free drink at bills’ Waikiki as part of the menu collaboration with the restaurant, which will be in place until June 2020. In other news, Flying Food Group’s Honolulu unit (HNL) is catering ANA A380 flights between Honolulu and Tokyo Narita. The three-times-weekly service launched May 24 and will expand to daily in July. Features of the double-deck, 520-seat aircraft include passenger bars and a multi-purpose passenger changing area. “Flying Food Group is proud to be catering this deluxe new aircraft,” said Nicolas Rondeau, Flying Food Group’s Executive Vice President, Airline Sales and Marketing.


IN Air Travel Experience launches eco initiative On June 1, IN Air Travel Experience revealed it has launched an environmental sustainability manifesto for airlines called Susta.IN, which further builds on its founders interest in eco-conscious travel. “In today’s world of air travel, where experiences and customer-centricity are considered the ultimate currency, the role of sustainability – in every sense of the word – has never been more important,” read a press release announcing the new endeavor, adding that the program is “context-specific, purpose-driven, affordable and actionable.”

6  JUNE 2019

According to IN Air Travel Experience, the manifesto was created to help airlines define an objective view and deep understanding of sustainable initiatives, so they can make the right choices before investing in any change. The announcement continued: “The Circular Economy Initiative by the EU, and especially the new directive around single-use plastics, will heavily affect the airline operations, and airlines are in some cases not well-prepared for such impactful change.” Watch this space for more information regarding Susta.IN and its efforts.



Rossiya Airlines adds new kit for Business Class Rossiya Airlines is flying a new Business Class amenity and comfort kit, created by AK-Service. The bag combines practicality, convenience and style, according to AK-Service, and reflects the airline’s corporate colors. The comfort items included were selected to ensure a comfortable flight, no matter the distance or duration. Slippers, a sleep mask, earplugs and cosmetics from Swiss brand Transvital are tucked into the convenient bag.

AK-Service supplies the new Business Class kit on Rossiya


Retail inMotion nets Cathay Pacific Group contract LSG Group’s Retail inMotion revealed it has been awarded the travel retail program contract for Cathay Pacific Group. The deal, which begins in early 2020, covers the full management of both Cathay Pacific and Cathay Dragon’s boutique and onboard duty-free retail program. A complete range of retail services, from product sourcing and management to warehousing and distribution, crew training and engagement, catalog design and customer service, are encompassed in the deal, enabled by the onboard retail platform Vector In-flight. “Retail inMotion and the LSG Group impressed us with their in-depth understanding of the travel retail industry and ability to leverage on technology to improve our customers’ shopping experience,” said Ronald Lam, Cathay Pacific’s Director Commercial and Cargo. “We look forward to building a strong partnership with Retail inMotion to take our travel retail business to new heights.” Stefan Patermann, CEO of Retail inMotion, also commented: “This deal is a very important milestone in the development of Retail inMotion. We feel honored by Cathay’s decision and are now preparing intensely for the successful launch of a market-leading and ground-breaking program for customers’ shopping pleasure, whether on the ground or in the air.”


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New focus,

same high quality With its recent foray into the larger food service market, Bangkok Air Catering has its sights set on satisfying the unique needs of customers and passengers around the world by RACHEL DEBLING


BAC’s Gourmet Primo facility produces ready-to-cook meals, a new undertaking for the company

8  JUNE 2019

Bangkok Air Catering began operations at Suvarnabhumi Airport more than a dozen years ago

hirteen years ago, Bangkok Air Catering (BAC) began operations at Suvarnabhumi International Airport, the location it still calls home today, with an initial portfolio of three airline customers, two of which it still counts among its client ranks. In just over a dozen years, its clientele has swelled to 22 airlines, and the caterer is now entering a new food service realm – semiprepared and ready-to-cook meals, by means of its new food plant, Gourmet Primo. (Ed’s note: PAX recently profiled BAC’s new facility in our September 2018 issue.) Last month, BAC expanded on this new project in a conversation with PAX. Gourmet Primo, a company spokesperson explained, can produce food that is semi-cooked, ready-tocook or ready-to-eat, with cuisine options that can be adjusted to meet its airline clients’ specific needs. Aside from airport lounges, this facet of the business literally caters to the greater food service industry, such as hotels and restaurants (HoReCa), and for events. For HoReCa businesses, the list of potential

BAC’s team places a lot of emphasis on charity work, especially the kinds that benefit the environment. products is expansive, with offerings like sauces, pre-cut fruits and vegetables, and frozen doughs, cake bases, croissants and meals, all ready for food purveyors to choose from. Like its parent company, Gourmet Primo dabbles in the aviation world via its airport lounge services, of which it handles several from its airport home base. Its work isn’t limited to the delicious meals guests can dine upon before their flight – it also offers cleaning, among other relevant services. Individuals or companies looking to host a soirée or large-scale meeting in the Suvarnabhumi area can also rent out Gourmet Primo’s space and leverage its culinary expertise, with catering for up to 300 guests and a one-stop-shop approach, providing decorations, entertainment, and even photographer and video production to its customers as needed. On the whole, specialty meals are considered a (pardon the pun) specialty of BAC. Its Halal kitchen produces 75% of its airline meals, with the obvious exception of a few pork products, to the total of 21,000 certified meals and 7,000 noncertified meals per day. Customers Emirates and Bangkok Airways are its two biggest Halal clients, and though the latter is not a strictly Halal carrier it does codeshare with many Middle Eastern airlines. The company also creates Kosher meals for two Israeli airlines out of its Phuket unit. BAC’s team places a lot of emphasis on charity work, especially the kinds that benefit the environment. One such project involves transforming food waste into organic fertilizer, a move that will in turn support the company’s recent partnership with a large Buddhist foundation for the farming of salad greens. Not only does this endeavor support local industry, it also helps reduce the airline’s carbon footprint while keeping up with its demand for quality produce. BAC will continue catering at Suvarnabhumi Airport until 2026, but the company reports there are other contracts in the works. Bangkok Airways, its mother company, is in the process of bidding to be the commercial airport developer at U-Tapao International Airport, a Navy airport being transitioned into a majority commercial airport. If it is successful, Bangkok Air Catering will cater at that location in addition to Samui, Phuket and Don Mueang Airport. BAC is resting its future success on two of its exciting new activities: the aforementioned Gourmet Primo facility and a special frozen Kosher box manufactured at BAC’s Phuket unit, suitable for all classes, that does not affect food quality when thawed. “We have varieties for client to choose from, to match their requirements,” the company says. “We have our own box designs but can also provide in a client’s box.” Until the future comes to pass, the company is pressing ahead on operations at its Suvarnabhumi home base, telling PAX: “We still have the best score, validated by the authorized auditor of the Airports of Thailand, among all service providers at Suvarnabhumi Airport, which proves our sustainable performance and our commitment to provide the best quality products and services to our clients at all times.”


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A passion for food fashion by MARY JANE PITTILLA

dnata supplies catering services to more than 110 airlines in 12 countries, uplifting some 10 million meals a month

Global air services provider dnata is set to uplift 120 million meals this year. Senior Vice President Robin Padgett reveals the secrets of its inflight success

dnata-owned En Route International offers the “right” range of products for inflight retail, enthuses Robin Padgett

dnata’s most recent milestone includes the opening in January 2019 of a US$4.7 million catering facility in Canberra Airport, Australia

10  JUNE 2019

“ I

We’re interested in China and the whole of Asia in the future.” – ROBIN PADGETT

t’s clear that Robin Padgett has a passion for food. As Divisional Senior Vice President, Catering at dnata, he’s in charge of the team responsible for “putting a great product in the air,” as he describes it. And they’re doing something right, as the company’s growth trajectory has been impressive. Over the past two years, Dubaiheadquartered dnata has invested significantly in growing its global catering network, which serves commercial airlines and charter airlines carrying VIPs, government officials and military, and also operates more than 40 food and beverage facilities and airport lounges around the world. dnata, established in 1959, entered the Australian inflight catering market with the acquisition of Alpha Flight Group in 2010. Since then, the company has gradually expanded its operations in the country through further acquisitions and organic growth. In November 2018, dnata acquired Qantas Airways’ Q Cater-

ing business, which operates units in Perth, Brisbane, Melbourne and Sydney. “We’re still absorbing Q Catering. We’ve doubled our size and now employ another 2,000 people. We handle all the hub catering for Qantas, and the company has changed out of all recognition,” enthuses Padgett. He reveals that in the Asia-Pacific region, dnata operates in 10 cities and 11 locations, including its off-airport food production facility in Queensland. Its most recent milestone includes the opening in January 2019 of a US$4.7 million catering facility in Canberra Airport. In Australia alone, dnata caters from 15 facilities, serving 45 airlines at nine airports with a team of nearly 4,000 employees. In total, the company supplies catering services to more than 110 airlines in 12 countries, uplifting some 10 million meals a month. The key to success is offering airline customers consistency, believes Padgett. “It’s all about the food. Be consistent and the customer will keep coming back,” he says. “Our team is excited by food and the culinary side. We have great technology behind it, but we’re keen to remain a chef-driven operation.” To that end, dnata offers apprenticeships to young chefs, with dozens going through its rigorous training programs across the globe. Padgett sees two major food trends. First, the rise of veganism, as evidenced by what customers are ordering onboard. This means the catering team have to be more creative. He explains: “We can’t offer people the same thing. In the old days vegetarian would mean a nut roast or an omelette, but we have to be more interesting. Veganism, vegetarians and flexitarians, who occasionally don’t eat dairy or meat, are here to stay. It’s not a flash in the pan, it’s a lifestyle change.” The second major food trend concerns allergen intolerances, seen in the popularity of “free from” foods. This began in North America and Western Europe and has now developed in other parts of the world, he notes. Overall, some of the most popular ‘special’ meals served on board come from Asia. “Asian vegetarian meals are ‘Top of the Pops,’ if you like. People from the Indian subcontinent are world travelers and want recognizable cuisine wherever they go, so they will order an Asian vegetarian meal.” At

number two is the vegetarian meal, and number three is the vegan option. Although it doesn’t operate in China, dnata has developed a specialty in Chinese cuisine, says Padgett, driven by its operations in Singapore and Australia. In Australia it caters to nine Chinese carriers serving the country. This gives the company global support for regional Chinese specialties. “We’re very conscious that Asia is an incredibly important travel market,” he notes. “We aren’t in China today but we serve its airlines all over the world and we’re interested in China and the whole of Asia in the future.” Another important sector is inflight retail, which is a growing channel for dnata, accounting for a third of its revenue. He notes that airlines are increasingly thinking about the product and service they offer in Economy, with the result that some are moving to a buyon-board model. “If you get the program right, you can drive satisfaction and revenue. Inflight retail is a space we love.” He predicts that premium cabins will become more premium and Economy will become more retailoriented, offering the same standard and brand names as customers are used to in their local market. dnata-owned En Route International offers the “right” range of products for inflight retail, he says, citing its partnership with Nando’s, the peri peri chicken restaurant chain. A major low-cost airline in the UK is flying with the product. En Route’s strategy is to partner with brands that would be appropriate to the market, using its expertise in packaging and logistics to tailor the product to the inflight environment. dnata also operates airport lounges through its hospitality brand, marhaba, offering services for passengers of all airlines and travel classes. These premium, pay-on-entry lounges are located across the world in places as diverse as Dubai, Singapore, Karachi and Melbourne airports, and there are “big plans” to roll out more. Commenting on the inflight catering sector as a whole, Padgett says: “It’s a vibrant time in the market. Airlines must compete on product and they know they can differentiate themselves with food. Food helps customers understand the airline better and can build loyalty and satisfaction. Airlines are willing to spend on putting great product in the air.” PAX-INTL.COM



What does the future hold for the Airline Catering Association? The new organization is into its second year, and according to Managing Director Fabio Gamba it shows no signs of slowing down



early one year to the day of the Airline Catering Association’s (ACA) launch in April 2018, PAX International sat down with Fabio Gamba, the association’s Managing Director, at the World Travel Catering & Onboard Services Expo (WTCE) to look back at its first 12 months of growth. Headquartered in Belgium and founded by the “big five” – gategroup, dnata, Newrest, LSG Group and DO & CO – as founding members, the ACA is in good position to act as the voice of the industry, helping guide legislation and policy that affects airline caterers worldwide, no matter their size. Putting the initial group together wasn’t a hard task, Gamba explained. “They understood the time was right for such a trade body,” he told PAX in Hamburg. “The original idea was to make sure they wouldn’t disperse their efforts or compromise, and they would do this with likeminded companies.” He noted that in the weeks following WTCE the ACA plans to announce it is opening up to additional members, further solidifying its position as a true representative of the international inflight catering industry. During its first year, the groundwork was laid to ensure the association would blossom. As it grows in size and support, the ACA will leverage this foundation to help make impactful change across the industry landscape. But don’t expect to see its board canvassing for members; Gamba said he believes the product speaks for itself.

12  JUNE 2019

Fabio Gamba. Managing Director of the ACA

“I believe the best members are those who are convinced to join – we’re not sales prospecting,” he noted. It’s no secret that during this year’s WTCE the industry was humming with the buzzword of the moment: sustainability. Though the group has set multiple priorities, Gamba recognizes that the shift to a more ecologically aware onboard experience is needed, post haste. “We’re hearing a lot about sustainability,” Gamba admitted. “Now that catering sustainability is being coined, it shows that the industry is understanding it is there and has a role, it is expected by the customer and the market, and [airlines are] expected to be compliant in its environmental gestures and policies. We will try to mastermind it and work in a deeper way.” Look to this space in the future for specific efforts the ACA will make on the industry’s – and the environment’s – behalf. Another announcement that came on the heels this year’s Hamburg event was Gamba’s appointment as Director General of the Airport Services Association (ASA). How these two roles will complement each

other remains to be seen, but Gamba is hopeful for fruitful collaboration. Looking ahead, the association is aiming to build its membership base and establish a series of goals, especially around the sustainability front. Gamba explained: “We do have targets but not for how many members. We have targets around how efficient we want to be and how to fend off legislation, such as the plastic directive. That is passed now, so we can’t change it, but this is an opportunity, not a challenge, to showcase it across our industry. “I know a lot of airlines have come out and said that by 20-something [they] will be plastic-free. For us it’s an interesting challenge that we’re happy to face.” Above all, the association recognizes the necessity of staying ahead of the curve, as opposed to playing catch-up once decisions are made. As Gamba told PAX: “We want to make sure that we’re not only in reaction mode. We want to say to the legislator that we want you to have a better understanding of who we are and what we represent, so when you make legislation, you take that into account, so we aren’t the collateral victim.”




At SATS, we place purpose at the heart of our business and into the hands of our people. Each one of us has a role to play in enabling SATS to grow with purpose. We adopt a technology-driven, people-led approach towards creating innovative food solutions that nourish communities. By combining decades of expertise with culinary innovation, we bring a taste of home to the skies, anywhere in the world. As Asia’s leading provider of food solutions and gateway services, we delight travellers with our signature dishes and ensure seamless connections across more than 60 locations and 13 countries. Find out how we feed and connect Asia at



to quality

The dishes created by VACS put authenticity and flavor at the forefront

Vietnam Airlines Caterers is an Asia-Pacific success story 25 years in the making. PAX investigated where the company came from and what’s ahead for its ambitious team by RACHEL DEBLING VACS began as a joint partnership between Vietnam Airlines and Cathay Pacific Catering Services

14  JUNE 2019


here is often truth in the old cliché “strength in numbers.” In fact, this is how Vietnam Airlines Caterers (VACS) was founded more than a quarter of a century ago. It quietly began as Vietnam Air Caterer, the product of a joint venture between Vietnam Airlines and Cathay Pacific Catering Services Ltd. Since that time, the company has grown considerably – and its employees and customers couldn’t be more proud as they look to an equally prosperous future. Many of the same faces who joined the airline caterer in its early years can still be seen around the company’s facilities. “Although people come and go, there are still people who have been with us since the beginning and we can’t express our appreciation enough for their loyalty and commitment,” the airline caterer told PAX in May. Twenty years after it was first established, the company was reborn as Vietnam Airlines Caterers, under full ownership of Vietnam’s national flag carrier. Then, in only five short years, from 2013 until 2018, the company saw tremendous progress, increasing their daily production by a third to deliver 24,000 meals each day. The list of airlines that Vietnam Airlines Caterers currently works with is certainly extensive for an operation of its size. Of the 36 international carriers it counts among its clientele, notable names include Aeroflot, Air France, Finnair, Hong Kong Airlines, Qatar Airways, Turkish Airlines and, of course, Vietnam Airlines. The company names Singapore Airlines, EVA Air, China Airlines and Japan Airlines as some of its longest-running customers, while airlines new to its roster include Thomas Cook, TUI and Chongqing Airlines. The team is also in talks with Mahan Air.

The caterer now produces and delivers 24,000 meals per day

The dishes created by VACS put authenticity and flavor at the forefront

Vietnam Airlines Caterers’ headquarters is conveniently located steps away from Tan Son Nhat International Airport in Ho Chi Minh City, making it a convenient choice for airlines flying out of the destination. According to a representative from the catering company, this enables its operations team to “be at the sharp end, interfacing with guests, reacting at a fast pace and ensuring on-time performance 24 hours a day.” Spread out over 12,000 square meters, VACS’ kitchen employs 1,100 people who together create and deliver the millions of meals the facility produces annually; the facility also has its own Halal kitchen certified by Malaysia Airlines. VACS offers specialty meals for food sensitivities and personal preferences, including gluten-free, diabetic, vegetarian and lactosefree, with kosher meals imported from the United Kingdom. The company prides itself on providing complete solutions for its customers, from convenience food and fine dining to newspaper handling and logistics, plus a large area of space for equipment storage. “Our laundry service is also available and we are certified to support our cabin appearance team with the washing of seat covers, curtains and blankets [through our subcontractor],” VACS says. Safety is also of the highest importance to the VACS team. As a company spokesperson tells PAX: “With our strict inspections monitoring [and] compliance measures, along with numerous quality-related processes, we are able to detect possible problems in a timely manner, thus minimizing errors on our end.” They also note that VACS is regularly audited by its airline customers’ audit teams to ensure the highest quality possible is served to passengers. The hard work of VACS was recently recognized with a 2018 Best Caterer Award by Hong Kong Airlines as

well as a 2019 PAX International Readership Award in the category of Airline Caterer of the Year – Asia. “We always try our best [to be] in compliance with our customers’ requirements to satisfy their needs and wants,” VACS says of this industry recognition. “Building lasting, mutually beneficial partnerships with all our customers is our ultimate goal.” Ahead for the catering company is more modernization and the enhancement of its current capabilities – it already has a passionate workforce that is willing and eager to learn, it says. The company notes: “With a history of 25 years, VACS now belongs to the top catering companies in Vietnam and we strive to become the best in the Asia-Pacific region. We expect even more innovative technology, productivity and a higher-performing work environment in the near future.” PAX-INTL.COM



A new Asian awakening

The 2019 edition of THAIFEX welcomed thousands of attendees

Jeremy Clark, Pax International’s Asia Correspondent, reports on the latest food trends from Thailand and Vietnam


t goes without saying Asian hospitality is renowned around the globe. Its hotels, restaurants and airlines offer levels of service you can but dream of in other parts of the world, and its expos that feature this business of ours are themselves big business. Bangkok’s THAIFEX is one of Asia’s largest food and service industry fairs with everything on show from raw products and ready-to-go snacks and meals to innovations in food technology, machinery and packaging. It is also a good indicator of what is new and trending in Asia’s hospitality and travel sector. The most noticeable shift I witnessed during my attendance at the 2019 edition, held May 28 to June 1 in Bangkok, was the move to a better understanding of health and sustainability – not just the health of consumers, but also of the environment. This new focus is taking time to filter through, but as a new generation of buyers with an awareness of environmental issues takes control, the demand is growing. The plain fact is that progress driven by government legislation on climate change is glacially slow, and in many Asian countries it’s non-existent. Consumer demand will force these

16  JUNE 2019

changes. A lot of this is driven by the travel sector as people see what is happening elsewhere in the world and import climate change awareness back home. Europe is a huge export market for Asia, and producers are waking up to the need to make improvements now, before they are forced to by law. I met with Mr. Sukhawat Dansermsuk, Co-President of CP Foods, one of Asia’s largest food preparation

companies, and his Vice President Varisa Roachanadram, who oversees the business’ European exports as well as its subsidiary Tops Foods, a Mercury Winner in 2017. “We are very focused [on] the move toward healthy eating and environmental sustainability,” he said. “We are looking to improving all the time, especially with packaging.” Products like its Thai green curry are made in Europe but with spice mixes prepared by kitchens in Thailand. Dishes like the vegan lasagna, now flying on some LCCs in Europe, are prepared by Tops Foods in Belgium.

Jeremy Clark (second from left) with the team from the CULINEUR School of Culinary Arts and Entrepreneurship

A healthy shift Tops Foods’ awardwinning vegan lasagne is following the “good and good for you” trend

Sustainability and the reduction of single-use plastics was a big theme at this year’s THAIFEX

Exhibitors at THAIFEX showcased their healthy snack options

Thai Smile Airways takes its plastic-free packaging seriously

In recent years, Asia has been making great strides in the quality of its products with a focus on reducing additives. Highly processed products are giving way to more natural foods that provide clearer visibility into their provenance. There are exceptions, mostly from Korea and China where the attraction of brightly colored snacks, drinks and desserts does not seem to deter consumers. But these countries are also coming up with innovative new health products. Ginseng and new herbal teas are trending as is dried chili skins mixed with various seeds, like chia or sesame – not as spicy as you would imagine, and additive- and salt-free, these are really popular in bars and pubs. Food producers in Singapore, Thailand and Malaysia are turning their attention to some very innovative and considered ranges focused on health, welfare (both animal and human) and organic sourcing. Dried fruits, nuts and mixes of the two featuring coconut flakes are replacing trail-mix-type offerings. Non-dairy drinks with alternatives to sugar-based sweeteners are also trending, including new types of juices, coconut waters, and soya and bean milks. Almond milk is already being recognized as an unsustainable product due to the water needed to cultivate. Stevia is big, as are coconut and palm sugar-sweetened products. A frustration voiced by many is the difficulty in accessing the travel and airline market with new products, as well as the very long lead time from discovery or conception to onboard delivery. A trending item is often passé and yesterday’s news before it has a chance to reach an airline offering. Education features heavily here. (IFSA, take note!) This is a great market for promoting our industry and creating awareness for up-and-coming students in the hospitality business. I spoke with the Director of Academics at the CULINEUR School of Culinary Arts and Entrepreneurship, Chachaya Raktakanishta, and some of her students who were demo cooking at the show. She expressed great interest in exposing the students to as many career paths as possible and admitted that accessing the travel industry is one of the most confusing, despite the fact most of the people working in hospitality are there largely as a result of travel.

Packing Up

No doubt you have noticed the big push for the removal of plastics from our disposable lifestyle. Many airlines and restaurant chains are actively taking the plastic out as the shift to reduce waste in packaging gathers impetus. Packaging companies in Asia are beginning to realize that this is unstoppable – see the range of paper packaging now used on Thai Smile. Airlines flying into Europe are being forced to adopt measures, and this is having a knock-on effect in Asia. Innovation must drive this, and I predict a return to rotable equipment in a more noticeable way as Gen Xers and millennials protest the quantity of rubbish produced by all-disposable meal service. I spoke to a number of manufacturers to ask them what actions they were taking to prepare for the demand. There is a clear concern that legislation may beat them to it if they do not address these issues, but many still don’t have real answers. After two days in Thailand, I flew on to Da Nang, Vietnam, where the Danang International Food Festival was about to start. At the event, the enthusiasm of young chefs about to meet with and demonstrate their skills for professionals from World Association of Chefs Societies was palpable. Interestingly, on the short 1 hour, 20-minute flight on Bangkok Airways, I was provided a very acceptable hot meal of prawns with noodles, fruit, a bottle of Merlot, and tea or coffee served with a smile – all included in the cost of my ticket, together with 23 kilograms of checked luggage and access to a very nice lounge at Bangkok, which is open to all Bangkok Airways passengers regardless of status. Compare this to the similarly priced cost of flying the same distance from Penang (my home) to Bangkok on AirAsia with a meal I had to pay for but I found was completely inedible, wrapped in tin foil and dumped unceremoniously on my table. The comparison is interesting. We are beginning to see the emergence of LCCs doing well, but at the cost of eroding the traditional Asian hospitality. I only hope that hospitality prevails. It is, after all, what we all strive to perfect.




Wonders of the


JAL offers traditional Japanese tableware when serving Japanese cuisine for First Class

Award-winning carrier Japan Airlines proudly showcases meticulous attention to detail in all areas of the cabin experience


apan Airlines has been turning its focus to food and beverage by bringing aboard new Michelin star chefs for consultation, adding new passenger dining options on a competitive route to Hawaii, and pouring some of the finest wines and Champagnes of any airline in First Class. JAL has recently welcomed to the team a Michelin two-star chef, Shinobu Namae, the chef-owner of L’Effervescence in Tokyo. Chef Namae produces nutritious inflight meals that keep a healthy diet in mind. For flights from Paris, the carrier has introduced Chef Atsumi, who worked as the chef at Clown Bar, a 100-year-old restaurant in Paris. He carefully brings out the best flavor of each ingredient based on the concept of “use everything, waste nothing.” In addition, JAL serves an exclusive ramen noodle meal produced by TSUTA, a one-star restaurant in the Michelin Guide Tokyo 2019.

18  JUNE 2019

The ratio of Japanese dishes to Western dishes depends on the flight, but is mostly 6:4. JAL Royal Catering prepares its inflight meals for long-haul routes and TFK, a SATS Ltd. subsidiary, prepares the short-haul dishes. JAL Royal Catering is JAL’s 51%-owned group company, with 49% owned by Royal Holdings. To let its passengers feel the traditional Japanese touch on board, JAL offers traditional Japanese tableware when serving Japanese cuisine in First and Business Class. “Although it is inefficient to have two kinds of tableware (Western and Japanese) from the point of view of the handling, it is JAL’s basic policy and universal belief to attach importance to customer satisfaction,” says the company. JAL recently introduced a new service called JAL Luana Style to its Business Class passengers flying to Hawaii. Passengers can choose when to receive their meals, allowing them to fly at their own pace for a more relaxing time. To highlight the carrier’s First Class selection, JAL has served Salon 2007, a rare vintage Champagne, to its

JAL’s ratio of Japanese dishes to Western dishes depends on the flight, but is mostly 6:4 (pictured here is a Business Class meal)

Chef Namae produces nutritious inflight meals that keep a healthy diet in mind

ETRO celebrated its 50th anniversary last year during the launch of JAL’s onboard program (First Class kits seen on right, Business Class on left)

First Class customers on international flights since March 2019, as well as Chateau Lagrange, a Bordeaux wine. Currently, JAL offers two kinds of Business Class amenity kits in collaboration with top brands. One is ETRO, the Italian luxury brand, a project that came to fruition thanks to WESSCO International. Another is Tatsumura Textile, a famous manufacturer in Kyoto making key contributions to the development of modern textiles in Japan. In addition, JAL includes “remarkable” amenities, citing a hot steam eye mask produced by Kao Corporation, a first-in-the-world amenity, available in First Class and in Business Class and limited to arrival flights in Japan; and a wet-style mouth mask with a highly moisturizing effect produced by Tamagawa Eizai Co., Ltd. JAL focuses on the quality of every cabin service item to meet and exceed customer expectations. “One the most important factors is our business partners (suppliers),” the carrier says. “We choose the strongest partners by each product category such as chinaware, glass, linen, bedding, headsets,

amenities, printing, etc., based on our experience and customer evaluations in the general market. They can materialize everything in accordance with JAL’s requirements faithfully and give us accurate advice from a professional point of view.” Turning to onboard entertainment, JAL selects content that will satisfy customers with multicultural backgrounds. The IFE selection is based on factors such as awards, popularity and passenger surveys. Some of the content is provided by JAL itself and some by JAL Brand Communications Co., Ltd, its subsidiary. Additionally, JAL Brand Communications Co., Ltd procures content from a content service provider. JAL offers onboard Wi-Fi, supplied by Panasonic Avionics for international flights and Gogo for domestic flights. When flying on international routes, passengers in all classes may connect their Wi-Fi-enabled devices to the inflight Wi-Fi service to browse the web, check their emails, update social networks and more, for which a charge is made. However, First Class passengers are entitled to enjoy complimentary internet access onboard. A free Wi-Fi service is available on all domestic flights. The subject of sustainability is also important for JAL. The JAL Group is striving to create a sustainable society through the rigorous pursuit of safety and business operations in harmony with the environment and society. The company has named its three key corporate social responsibility (CSR) issues “Coexist with the Earth,” “Contribute to Communities,” and “Nurture Future Generations.” The JAL Group has developed guidelines for areas that the group needs to tackle and subsequently created action plans. The company’s aviation business connects people and helps to spread Japanese culture around the world. Guided by the JAL Group’s Basic CSR Policy, its initiatives are designed to bring people together and revitalize regional economies, as well as support communities worldwide. The JAL Group is working to nurture future generations based on the theme of “bright futures.” To support those efforts, the company launched JAL SORAIKU in November 2016 as a new educational program to give children a deeper connection with Japan, the world and the global environment. “By giving children an insight into the wonders of the sky, we hope to lead them on a new journey of discovery and learning that encourages them to think about their future prospects,” it says. PAX-INTL.COM




takes the stage In addition to a double-digit increase in daily production, the new addition to the SATS catering complex in Singapore is outfitted with technological efficiencies developed through collaboration and innovation by RICK LUNDSTROM


New ideas are developed and tested at the SATS Innovation Centre

20  JUNE 2019



ince March, the rice processing line at SATS’ C2+ catering expansion on the North Crescent at Singapore’s ll photos by Changi SATSAirport Ltd has been producing a staple product of the region’s diet with speed and efficiency that would astonish cooks who have prepared it over the centuries. Jasmine, Japanese, Indian basmati and other exotically flavored rice varieties such as chicken and briyani go through an automated process that can churn out up to 4,000 servings per hour, all in a pre-determined weight and completed by a crew of three, less than half of what was required before the expansion. But there’s more. In other parts of the S$25 million (US$18.8 million) addition, an autofryer stirs and cooks rice noodles at the rate of 60 kilograms per half hour. A thermoforming process vacuum packs food in bulk. A roll of plastic sheeting is heated to exact sizes and shapes, packing up to 480 kilograms of meal products per hour. The caterer is also preparing for the future, both short term and long term. A new system that is able to pasteurize and sterilize meals without preservatives is now in place. Shelf life has been extended by providing consistent heat penetration at 70 to 90 °C to pasteurize and 120 °C



At one time, eight employees were needed to operate the SATS rice line. Now the job can be done with three

to sterilize. In a standard 55-minute process, up to 1,080 trays can be preserved, and waste is kept to a minimum. All this and more make up the company’s efforts to improve the taste and quality of the food it produces for the many customers in its Food Solutions and Gateway Services divisions. While known in the region as one of the largest airline caterers, the company actually has more than 60 locations in 13 countries across Asia and the Middle East that produce airline meals and provide institutional and remote catering and food distribution and logistics. In a given year, SATS produces more than 170 million meals across all its divisions. Its two main kitchens in Singapore originally produced up to 105,000 meals per day. With the new extension of C2+, an additional 14% was added to the company’s total capacity, topping out at 120,000 per day. Meals from the extended facility are currently offered to airline customers in the initial phase, but will be extending the distribution of similar meals to non-aviation customers under the company’s Country Food brand, says Jean Sin, Vice President of Innovation and Product Development at SATS. Sin says the caterer is initially looking at opportunities in the fast casual restaurant market for the products. The C2+ expansion also has a dedicated Halal facility, which can prepare dishes for all airline classes.

22  JUNE 2019

The first airline customer to see the products from C2+ is Singapore Airlines’ low-cost subsidiary, Scoot. At press time, new menu products were in development. Plans call for the new meals to be worked into the Scoot system this month. Food technologists, dieticians and chefs at SATS initially created several new dishes at C2+. On the menu in the early stages of operation were popular dishes such as baked fragrant chicken rice and beef bourguignon. Both could find their way to the airline cabin as well as to homes around Singapore, and potentially elsewhere. “Diets and lifestyles in Asia have changed as a result of rapid urbanization,” said Alex Hungate, President and Chief Executive Officer of SATS, in the announcement of the C2+ opening. “Families today have less time to prepare meals at home so they are increasingly turning to ready-to-eat meals.” This is not the first time the caterer has taken the mantle of early adopter of new technologies. The July 2017 issue of PAX International highlighted SATS’ TechniC@SATS Technical Innovation Centre and the robotic equipment the center was testing for airline catering and airport use. Embracing new technology not only helps the company find best practices in its business but it also helps its many employees, says Sin. “Productivity initiatives come from the ground up and create room for our employees to upgrade themselves,”


The autofryer at C2+ provides a consistent produce in large batch cooking

A roll of sheet plastic is heated in the thermoformer to create precise shapes and sizes

she says. “As we implement technology, we also redesign jobs to create higher value jobs for our employees. “Some of these productivity initiatives have also been implemented to create a more sustainable environment for our stakeholders and our people.” Amid all the technological features in C2+, where do the skills of the SATS chefs fit in? Sin says the company is putting its culinary teams through a rigorous training process on new equipment, during which they will be taught how to adapt their skills within the framework of the technology. “Our chefs will still be able to exercise their creativity and artistry as before, except that the cooking processes will have to be adjusted,” she says. For now, the technology will stay close to SATS’ home in Singapore. However, the company sees possibilities for additional applications; for example, the automated rice line could be useful at catering units in China. Another useful technology that was on display at the C2+ March opening is a process called “digital twin” that simulates different production scenarios and the cooking process for each recipe to optimize the use of resources. By harnessing digital twin, Sin says SATS can capture the culinary insights and experience of its chefs digitally and empower them to reproduce the same recipe faithfully. “This can be applied across different operations, such as cruise terminals, airport check-in counters, lounge management and cargo operations, enhancing our ability to optimize resources using simulations,” Sin adds. “This sets the model for us to scale and replicate overseas as we expand our footprint.”




Our readers

have spoken Airlines, caterers and suppliers were honored in Hamburg this April at the 2019 PAX International Readership Awards. Join us in celebrating our winners!


WINNER: Air Canada

Andrew Yiu, Air Canada’s Vice President, Product, with PAX International and PAX Tech publisher Aijaz Khan

24  JUNE 2019



LATAM Airlines Group’s Sergio Lazzeri, Head of Travel Experience; Estela Espinoza, Head of Onboard Service Development; and Juan Ordoñez, Director of Onboard Service; with Aijaz Khan



WINNER: Thai Airways

WINNER: TAP Air Portugal

Niyada Krisanaracha, Thai’sDirector, Marketing Development and Operations; Varangkana Luerojvong, Thai’s Managing Director, Catering; Aijaz Khan; Chantra Khemaluk, Thai’s Division Manager, Airline Sales & Services Division; and Phiphop Pannarawong, Thai’s Director, Airline Production & Services

OUTSTANDING FOOD SERVICE BY A CARRIER – MIDDLE EAST WINNERS: Turkish Airlines (not pictured) and Qatar Airways Carina Wiebalck, Qatar’s Account Manager – Leisure, and Peter Uebler, Qatar’s Regional Manager – Airport Services, with Aijaz Khan

Sandra Arraias, TAP’s Medium Haul Product Manager; Joel Fragata, TAP’s Head of In-Flight and On-Ground Product; Joana Pestana de Vasconcelos, In-Flight and On-Ground Product - Product Manager; and Aijaz Khan


WINNER: Air Astana

Air Astana’s Yevgeniya Ni, Vice President HR and Administration, and Svetlana Dakhova-Bagranova, Manager – International Menu Design & Development; Aijaz Khan; Air Astana’s Makpal Sarimbekova; and Saule Smagulova



WINNER: Gate Gourmet

WINNER: dnata

dnata’s David Loft, Chief Commercial Officer; Robin Padgett, Chief Executive Officer; John Hetzel, Vice President of Commercial; and Joe Savino, Chief Marketing Officer; with Aijaz Khan

gategroup’s Jérôme Jamault, Vice President, Sales and Service – Latin America, and Rodrigo Decerega, Chief Commercial Officer – Latin America, with Aijaz Khan


WINNERS: Vietnam Airlines Caterers and SATS Ltd. VACS’ Huynh Van Thanh, Assistant to Management Board; Nguyen Thi Hoa, Sales & Marketing Manager; and Bert Dinkel, Deputy General Manager; Aijaz Khan and Do Thi Ngoc Van, VACS’ Deputy General Manager

Goh Siang Han, SATS Ltd.’s Chief Operating Officer, and Aijaz Khan



AIRLINE CATERER OF THE YEAR – EUROPE WINNER: LSG Sky Chefs LSG Sky Chef’s Jeanette Hangen, Director Sales and Services, and Stefan Siever, Project Director Catering Transformation, with Aijaz Khan

AIRLINE CATERER OF THE YEAR – MIDDLE EAST WINNER: Emirates Flight Catering Faysal Moufarrej, Emirate’s Flight Catering’s Chief Operating Officer, and Aijaz Khan


AIRLINE CATERER OF THE YEAR – AFRICA WINNER: ADDIS INTERNATIONAL CATERING Makeda Yohannes, Addis’ Sales & Customer Services (second from left); Rajan Kurien, Chief Operating Officer (third from left); and the ADDIS team with Aijaz Khan (second from right)

BEST IN-FLIGHT DUTY FREE PROGRAM – ASIA WINNER: Korean Air Tae-Kyun Kim, Korean Air’s General Manager, Culinary Development, In-Flight Service Team, Catering & In-Flight Sales; with Aijaz Khan

BEST CABIN INTERIOR PASSENGER EXPERIENCE WINNER: Qatar Airways for Qsuite Qatar’s Carina Wiebalck, Qatar’s Account Manager – Leisure, and Peter Uebler, Regional Manager – Airport Services


BEST SEATING WINNER: Geven Alberto Veneruso, Geven’s Managing Director, with Aijaz Khan

26  JUNE 2019


1000+ Attendees | 200 Exhibitors | 100 Airlines Join IFSA at the epicenter of innovation at the largest gathering of professionals in the onboard industry for: ●

An EXPO showcasing new products, presenting industry developments and advancements, and spotlighting the best food, beverage, amenity, and onboard products from around the world

Thought Leadership from leading aerospace executives addressing trends and future forecasts

Networking opportunities with a wide group of colleagues and key leaders to enhance relationships and generate partnerships

For more information visit



A first for

Aboriginal dancers kicked off last year’s APOT gathering in Perth, Western Australia


This year’s 2019 APOT forum is being held in Shanghai – a new venue for the ambitious industry organization – and promises to deliver plenty of networking opportunities and thought-provoking discussions about the future of the region

Discussion and relaxation were part of the daylong educational sessions at APOT 2018


POT is hosting its annual forum from June 16 to 18 at the Hotel Intercontinental Expo in Pudong, Shanghai, marking the first time the event has been held in Mainland China. Organizers from APOT note that the annual event is unlike any other forum in the industry, with a focus on relaxed networking and plenty of time for getting to know colleagues and forging business ties. The premise of APOT is to bring together industry professionals to promote destinations as well as the journey – at APOT, the tourism aspect is as important as the onboard hospitality and service elements. This year, the organization hopes to provide an opportunity for China-based businesses – both airlines and their suppliers – to discuss, learn and teach those from outside of China the business models and routes into this lucrative market. As China’s civil aviation infrastructure grows exponentially, many aspects of its expansion show how things are approached differently there from the rest of the world, and in particular from the rest of Asia. At this exclusive event, APOT will look to establish relationships to support the industry at large through these markets. For more information on how to register and further details about the event, please visit APOT’s website.

28  JUNE 2019

APOT 2019 SCHEDULE Sunday, June 16 • Delegate registration at hotel reception • Mercury judging • City tour • Welcome cocktail party Monday, June 17 • Educational day • Trade show • Gala dinner Tuesday, June 18 • Golf Tournament at the Tomson Golf Club • Chinese tea experience tour • Chinese cultural evening (river cruise with dining)


Aircraft Interiors Expo is your fast track connection for the world’s aircraft interiors industry. Through our industry networks and global reach, we create business opportunities, providing you with quality contacts, content and communities. Join us in LA to network, reconnect and source the latest innovations.



10 -12

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WELCOME ONBOARD. Defining the future of the global passenger experience industry. Four leading events, one week, one destination. Delivering content, driving innovation and developing connections to transform your business. Showcasing the latest cabin interiors, inflight entertainment and connectivity, passenger comfort, catering, retail offerings and software technology to create the ultimate passenger experience.

30 MARCH 2020


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