PAX International Asia-Pacific June 2021

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Asia-Pacific Issue


New s and analy sis for the passenger ser vices executive


on the rise



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Challenge and change


n many discussions and interviews over the past several months, talk of COVID-19 responses from airlines and supplier companies have veered into a different subject that – our sources remind us – is not going away. The shift toward sustainability and environmental awareness will be waiting on the other side of the pandemic, we’re told. And some tips on how to deal with public demand and awareness surfaced this week from a company called GlobalData, which more than 4,000 companies worldwide use to make business decisions. The May 13 release from the company urges airlines to forge meaningful partnerships on their way to becoming “environmental leaders within their industry.” “Travelers are increasingly likely to be influenced by how environmentally friendly a product or service is, with GlobalData’s Q1 2021 Consumer Survey revealing that 76 percent of global respondents are ‘always,’ ‘often,’ or ‘sometimes’ influenced by this factor, as well as how ethical/socially responsible a product or service is,” reads the release. One example cited by GlobalData was the initiative by easyJet to work with Wright Electric in 2017 to develop an electric aircraft for short distance flight. Delta Air Lines nearly 10 years ago acquired an oil refinery to make sure it would receive a steady supply of fuel. In a similar way, GlobalData suggests airlines also seek out biofuel companies. Among the public, the subject of “flight shaming” is a real movement, said Gus Gardner, Associate Travel and Tourism Analyst at GlobalData. He said airlines run the risk of passengers picking other forms of transportation, no matter how many carbon offsetting programs are put in place and no matter how many efforts are made to reduce plastic onboard. Airline suppliers and the major associations that we regularly cover in PAX International have been busy in the last year. On our website and in these pages you’ll see examples of an industry striving to be more environmentally conscious because it knows the scrutiny it faces. “The COVID-19 pandemic has allowed airlines and industry stakeholders to take a step back and focus on initiatives to accelerate the progress currently being made to make aviation greener,” says Gardner. “With travelers more likely to switch to alternative, greener transport options on short-haul routes, airlines must seek collaborative partnerships to make further progress in this space and protect their future.”

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. July 2019. 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




14 Features GUEST COLUMN


RESTART ON THE RISE In this guest column, Keerthi “HappyK” Hapugasdeniya, Founder of HappyK Solutions, gives an update on two key airlines in Vietnam, plus a snapshot of the country’s plans to reopen come September









20 Asia-Pacific Issue


New s and analy sis for the passenger ser vices executive


on the rise



SATS has set up a contactless F&B concept called SGH Housemen’s Canteen at Singapore General Hospital. Diners access prepared food from separate lockers. Read more on page 12. PHOTO COURTESY SATS








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CANTEEN CATERING During a pandemic, food service at a hospital poses particular challenges, but SATS found a way to bring touchless service and some of its well-known dishes to a health care environment WASTE NO MORE The Singapore catering unit of dnata has found a unique partner to deal with a food waste issue that has plagued airline caterers for decades TACTFUL IN THAILAND Following a third wave of COVID-19 in Thailand, Bangkok Air Catering has all eyes on business-to-consumer revenue in the domestic market CATERING QUALMS This regional report reviews the state of airlines, caterers and suppliers in Asia REDUCE, REUSE, ROTABLE Suppliers are mastering impressive rotable products as the demand grows. Warewashers weigh in on the benefits of rotables COSMIC CREATIONS Three meals chosen by French aerospace engineer Thomas Pesquet were developed in the kitchens of gategroup’s Servair, giving him a taste of home for the next six months at the International Space Station




A NEW SPIRIT Qantas Airways revisits its roots in Longreach, Queensland – and finds the flavors for its new brand of gin

TRAVEL IN STYLE FORMIA has introduced a new brand collaboration onboard American Airlines, making the airline the first to offer the supplier’s eye masks and socks made from 100 percent recycled PET fabrics



ESSENCE OF THE EXPO FTE’s Daniel Coleman and APEX’s Dr. Joe Leader give details on what to expect at FTE APEX Virtual Expo 2021



AirAsia Food expands to Penang, Malaysia AirAsia has been diversifying through the pandemic, launching food delivery service AirAsia Food powered by Teleport. After a successful debut in Klang Valley, Malaysia, the Group is bringing the service north to Penang.

CEO of Karen Chan (fourth from right) with the management team

“There is no doubt that Penang is a foodie’s dream come true,” said Lim Ben-Jie, AirAsia Super App Head of e-Commerce. “A place where there is an abundance of local flavors, as well as world-class cuisines and hence, we are excited to expand AirAsia Food into Penang after Klang Valley in Malaysia, as well as Singapore.” AirAsia Food aims to disrupt the food delivery scene by offering a seamless solution for merchants at an affordable and business friendly commission rate. It runs on flat rates and 10 percent commission model. Merchants can sign up immediately with flat-rates and switch to a 10 percent commission model later on. It gives full control for merchants to manage menu and prices, apart from receiving an extended delivery range of up to 60 kilometers (as compared to 15 to 20 kilometers by other food delivery platforms).


Turkish Airlines resumes food service for select Business and Economy Class flights Turkish Airlines has resumed its premium onboard dining and hot meal service on all Business and Economy Class flights longer than two hours and 15 minutes flight time. The airline, which is known for its cuisine and Turkish hospitality, temporarily changed meal services on flight due to COVID-19. Now in accordance with the health and hygiene applications, Turkish is offering full premium menus prepared with fresh ingredients, courtesy of DO & CO. Turkish Airlines serves breakfast and dinner specialties, with awardwinning dishes combining Turkish hospitality with tastes from around the world. The airline also offers a selection of hot and cold drinks, fresh juices, and ‘Fly Good, Feel Good’ wellness teas.

Turkish Airlines’ award-winning dishes include cheese and tomato omelet with sautéed mushrooms, grilled Turkish style meatball, with sautéed zucchini and roasted red pepper bulgur pilaf, rigatoni with homemade parmesan tomato sauce





ANA aims for sustainability goals with biodegradable meal trays All Nippon Airways (ANA) will introduce Economy Class meal trays made from bagasse, the waste fiber created from pressing sugarcane, starting in August. The introduction of biodegradable trays is part of the airline’s sustainability initiatives as it works to meet the targets outlined in its 2050 sustainability goals. By replacing the plastic meal trays on international flights, the amount of disposable plastic used by ANA for inflight services will be reduced by approximately 30 percent, an

amount that was equal to 317 tons during fiscal 2019. In 2020, ANA introduced plastic-free cutlery and straws, reducing the amount of plastic used by 25 tons compared to the previous year. The reduced use of plastic is central to ANA’s 2050 ESG initiatives and the airline will continue exploring areas where it can reduce consumption and waste. ANA is committed to the UN Sustainable Development Goals and has been recognized by Dow Jones and S&P for continued leadership in sustainability.

Trays currently used by ANA (left) will be replaced by biodegradable bagasse (right)


Plane Talking Products launches plastic-free cups Plane Talking Products has announced the launch of its new “The goal is to offer a fully plastic-free Economy FSC certified beverage cups that are 100 percent free of plasmeal set-up, including the tray,” Piper says. “We are tic and PLA. The cups are completely recyclable in normal also developing a closed-loop recycling initiative on all paper streams and do not require any special commercial rotable products that continue to have their place.” lining separation. The cups are available in a range of sizes and are suited for both hot and cold drinks. For hot beverages, an FSC sleeve is available, with FSC cardboard or molded Bagasse lids. The smooth surface can hold printing for airlines to communicate their “eco message,” says Martin Piper, Sales & Marketing Director at Plane Talking Products Limited. “This is the great thing about cardboard products – the branding and message possibilities are endless and it’s crucial for airline or rail marketing departments to fully leverage this element,” Piper says. The cups are part of the company’s ongoing sustainable product program which recently saw the launch of the plastic-free cutlery packs. The program is looking at other FSC paper product opportunities, plasticfree ovenable cardboard casseroles, Bagasse The cups are part of the company’s ongoing sustainable product program pulp-molded bowls, trays and more.

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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 feed and connect communities. 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 enable more people to eat well by providing healthy, nutritious and great-tasting meals. As Asia’s leading provider of food solutions and gateway services, we delight customers with our signature dishes and ensure seamless connections across more than 55 locations and 13 countries in the Asia Pacific, UK, and the Middle East.

Find out how we feed and connect communities at


Restart rise on the

Vietravel plans to equitize subsidiary Vietravel Airlines in its second year to boost its success as the first travel airline in Vietnam

Bamboo Airways plans to become a five-star airline in Vietnam by 2023 with the help of airline consulting company Yates+Partners

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In this guest column, Keerthi “HappyK” Hapugasdeniya, Founder of HappyK Solutions, gives an update on two key airlines in Vietnam, plus a snapshot of the country’s plans to reopen come September

Keerthi “HappyK” Hapugasdeniya, Founder, HappyK Solutions


t has been a hectic few months after going through deep COVID restrictions in Vietnam, with the travel and tourism sectors facing many challenges. With predictions of a fourth wave, some cities are locked down with the public encouraged to stay home. This is not good news for domestic travel. I recently spoke to Director of Tourism Mr. Binh Nguyen who says the city of Da Nang is not waiting for international tourists, but rather is changing tourist criteria to welcome local travelers who have do not have the option to travel overseas. He tells me the city has hosted a number of successful activities in the past few months to reconnect locals after a year of silence. The city plans to keep the events going for the rest of the year. If the virus disturbs the plans, the city will respond appropriately to keep people safe. Like in many other countries, airlines in Vietnam are re-evaluating business plans to adapt to the unpredictable environment. According to Vietnamplus, Vietravel plans to equitize subsidiary Vietravel Airlines in its second year to boost its success as the first travel airline in Vietnam. Vietravel will hold the founding share and remain the majority shareholder. Vietravel Airlines, headquartered at Phu Bai International Airport in the central city of Hue, debuted in December 2020 and aims to carry one million passengers by the end of its first year. Airline consulting company Yates+Partners entered an agreement with Bamboo Airways in May with the goal of helping the carrier become the first airline in the country to achieve a five-star rating. As part of the partnership, Yates will advise the airline on products and services at all customer touch points; develop training classes for all employees; and, design a long-term consulting roadmap to achieve the goal by 2023. Bamboo is finalizing plans to operate regular flights to San Francisco and Los Angeles starting in September having received a permit last year from the US Department of Transportation to carry passengers and cargo to the country.

The Vietnam Ministry of Transport is confirming procedures to designate Bamboo Airways to operate charter flights to the US following a proposal from the Civil Aviation Authority of Vietnam (CAAV) at the end of April. It will allow privately owned airlines to carry passengers and goods on charter flights upon approval by the Prime Minister and relevant agencies. Passengers could be experts, foreign investors and Vietnamese citizens in the US returning home. Bamboo Airways Chairman Trinh Van Quyet says the airline expects to operate charter flights to the US starting in July. This would make Bamboo Airways the only non-stop airline between Vietnam and the US. Meanwhile, the carrier also plans to launch new international direct routes to the Korea, China, the UK, Germany, Tokyo, Melbourne, Sydney, Singapore and Thailand.

Vacation in Vietnam

Vietnam is working to resume regular international passenger flights in September 2021. In the first phase of reopening, bundled flights and hotel packages will be an option for domestic travelers serving 14-day quarantines. In the second phase, which the government aims to implement from July, there will be focus on re-establishing routes with other countries. Four weekly return flights will run for each airline, in each destination country including Japan, South Korea and Taiwan. Flights will be subject to quarantine capacity at all airports. The third and final stage begins in September, targeting daily return flights to each destination. Vietnam will accept travelers with a negative COVID-19 test result or vaccine certificate to serve a shortened seven- to 14-day quarantine at home. This phase depends on the progress of Vietnam’s vaccination program. The country plans to connect with those that have similar vaccination standards and COVID-19 travel protocols. CAAV says that local authorities will recognize international vaccine certifications issued by government-approved immunization establishments or approved by the World Health Organization.





A corrugated metal look was picked for the QF100 gin label to match the original Qantas hangar in Queensland


f there’s one airline that should be poised for a celebration this year, it is the national airline of Australia, Qantas Airways, for a couple important reasons. In comparison with much of the world, the country has fared well during the COVID-19 pandemic, staying open and free due to what health experts say was a strong public response and containment management. Last year marked the 100th anniversary of the airline with an acronym for a name: Queensland and Northern Territory Aerial Service. Founded in November 1920, Qantas

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Qantas Airways revisits its roots in Longreach, Queensland – and finds the flavors for its new brand of gin is a bit overdue for a celebration, and this one is all about a new spirit. Four Pillars and Qantas have released a new gin to commemorate one hundred years of the national carrier. The QF100 gin traces its roots back to Longreach, the birthplace of Qantas. It features botanicals sourced from the central western Queensland region, particularly the aromatic lemongrass that forms one of the bases of the gin. Other native Australian ingredients used in the gin include macadamia and lemon myrtle. Four Pillars co-founder and distiller Cameron Mackenzie said in the announcement of the gin, he wanted

to create a product that encapsulated the ‘Spirit of Australia.’ Mackenzie traveled to the outback community to forage for botanicals native to the area, under the guidance of local indigenous elder Suzanne Thompson. “For 100 years Qantas has connected Australians with the world, shaping the country we live in today. We were absolutely thrilled to be able to celebrate the centenary of the flying kangaroo with a truly unique, very Australian gin,” Mackenzie said. Qantas Chief Customer Officer Stephanie Tully said the limitededition centenary gin celebrates the beginnings of the national airline as it emerges from the most challenging period in its 100-year history. “The QF100 gin features a label with grey strips to replicate the vertical corrugated iron from the original Qantas hangar at Longreach,” Tully said. Qantas is featuring the gin in a signature centenary cocktail named the “Longreach Fizz” for customers visiting the Qantas International First lounges in Sydney and Melbourne, the Brisbane International Lounge (which recently reopened as part of the two-way agreement with New Zealand) as well as the six domestic Chairman’s lounges. It is also available for purchase in the Qantas wine purchasing store for AUS90 (US$69.50).


Canteen catering During a pandemic, food service at a hospital poses particular challenges, but SATS found a way to bring touchless service and some of its well-known dishes to a health care environment by RICK LUNDSTROM

SATS employs analytics that will create “live menu” for SGH Housemen’s. PHOTO COURTESY SATS

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To adhere to touchless requirements, meals are served from individual lockers. PHOTO COURTESY SATS


ith a foundation that was laid in 1821, Singapore General Hospital has no doubt an impressive history. Known for affordable health care and doctor training, the professionals who gather there for work have a keen eye for proper meal hygiene and safe food distribution, especially as the pandemic moves through its second year. Like instilling confidence in airline passengers on the safety of its food service, Singapore-based SATS has set up a new contactless F&B concept called SGH Housemen’s Canteen, which was opened in February of this year. Now, food professionals work in a windowed preparation area and deliver some of SATS’ dishes such as its signature laksa, under the watchful eyes of diners at Housemen’s. Behind the scenes, the contactless operation has stations in the kitchen for hot food preparation, refrigeration, assembly and packing all done with a staff of only five people. The Housemen’s Canteen contract is an extension of SATS’ involvement in institutional and health care food service that goes back more than 15 years, says Alan Tay, Vice President of Commercial Strategy for Food Solutions at SATS. The operation is handled through the SATS Food Solutions Division. “We have a team of trained dietitians, chefs, and catering professionals who work with healthcare institutions to develop tailor-made in-patient menus, therapeutic and textured meals and pantry supplies with stringent hospital guidelines and food safety regulations,” Tay says. “Our range of integrated solutions also include food concierge services and staff lounge management.” The rest of the Housemen’s Canteen menu is largely different from other SATS food service offerings but uses much of the same culinary techniques and food technology. To make the process as safe as possible, diners order

dishes through a website on mobile phones, or place the orders on digital kiosks at the Canteen. Through a window beside the collection point they can watch the food being prepared. The food is placed in separate lockers that are accessed once the diners receive a message notification. “SGH believes in leveraging technology to transform patient care and experience, as evident by the initiatives we have rolled out over the years. We continue to do so even more during the pandemic as the need for rapid innovation has never been greater,” said Lee Jiunn Kee, Deputy Director who helms the Division of Patient Support at Singapore General Hospital, in the announcement of the partnership. “Our partnership with SATS to offer a digitalized and contactless dining concept will not only enhance visitor experience but that of our staff at the SGH Campus, too,” he adds. Making the process economically feasible has always been a part of the equation, be it airline or institutional catering and beyond, says Tay. “SATS has been investing in large-scale kitchens and food technologies to increase productivity and reduce waste over the last three years,” says Tay. “By harnessing our central kitchen capabilities, we are able to scale production while consistently maintaining food quality with a high degree of customization.” That customization will lead to a greater list of choices and a varied menu. Kerry Mok, CEO of SATS Food Solutions, said the company will employ its data analytics to develop a “live menu” that can be quickly tailored to suit diner preferences. In a city that has a culinary reputation that is known around the world, the SATS team has pledged to constantly monitor food and consumer trends to keep the menu fresh and compelling. “The SGH Housemen’s Canteen is a long-term investment with more plans in the pipeline,” says Tay. “We are constantly exploring a variety of opportunities within the SGH campus, so stay tuned for more.”


PAX International: As the pandemic slows in many places around the world, how is the traditional airline catering business shaping up and what do you see in the next six months? Alan Tay, Vice President of Commercial Strategy for Food Solutions: “Airline catering continues to evolve with a growing need for low-touch, high-hygiene packaging for the safety and well-being of travelers. SATS has been working closely with its airline customers to roll out various initiatives such as developing new menu offerings, as well as packaging solutions that reduce single-use plastics and improve waste management. “Together with our partners, we have also made the switch from printed to digital menus for some airlines, enabling us to better predict customer demand to refresh buy-on-board offerings more often to feature the latest food and beverage trends.”




Waste no more Operating at full capacity, dnata’s operation in Singapore produces hundreds of kilograms of food waste that will be used by Blue Aqua

The Singapore catering unit of dnata has found a unique partner to deal with a food waste issue that has plagued airline caterers for decades by RICK LUNDSTROM


efore the COVID-19 pandemic, the Singapore catering unit of dnata was disposing of approximately 500 kilograms of food waste per day. What to do with it had the company attending industry forums and seeking out solutions. This spring the caterer began the first steps to find a home for the waste, with some of it making its way into bellies of several species of fish and crustaceans. The partnership that will make it all possible was announced at the beginning of May, in the form of a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between dnata and an aquaculture food technolgy firm called Blue Aqua Food Tech. Through the partnership, Blue Aqua will “upcycle” organic material generated by dnata’s catering and ground handling operations, turning it into aquafeeds. The “insect meal” created by the food waste will be distributed to Blue Aqua’s fish and shrimp farms in Singapore. The leftovers from dnata go through a conversion process that transforms them into insect protein, which is fed to the com-

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pany’s aquaculture livestock. Compared to traditional protein, the insect protein has a low land, water and carbon footprint. The partnership will also supply Singapore’s farmers with sustainable access to domestically produced animal feed to help ease their reliance on imports. In Singapore, Blue Aqua raises white shrimp, black tiger shrimp, jade perch, hybrid grouper, threadfin and red snapper. “Our indoor farms are zero water exchange and zero waste,” says Nathalie Lim, Vice President of Marketing for Blue Aqua. The process has the blessing of the Singaporean government, which like the rest of the world, is keen to see its businesses develop more sustainable practices. Government offices like the Singapore Food Agency are releasing funds in the form of grants for agri-business productivity projects; and Blue Aqua is lining up with other companies to apply for the available monies. It is also in line with Singapore’s vision of being a ‘Zero Waste Nation’, which means the recycling rate must be increased to 70 percent. The leftover food waste from catering operations is

Insect meal made from dnata food waste will be fed to shrimp in Blue Aqua’s aquaculture farms

White shrimp is one of several species that are raised in Blue Aqua aquaculture farms

kept in separate containers that are collected by Blue Aqua and transported to its aquaculture farms, says Dirk Goovaerts, dnata’s Regional Chief Executive Officer for Asia Pacific. “At the next phase, we also plan to investigate what organic waste can be recycled from passenger aircraft galleys and our lounges, too,” he tells PAX International. The May signing of the MOU is a starting point to a “zero waste” master plan between the two companies. The process comes full circle as dnata has added Blue Aqua to its list of suppliers to purchase locally farmed seafood for its catering operations. The CEO and founder of Blue Aqua is Dr. Fashad Shishehchian. Blue Aqua has a presence in 14 countries. The company opened its super-intensive shrimp farm in Singapore in October of 2017. In addition to business activities, Blue Aqua trains vet-tech students from Temasek Polytechnic for hands-on experience and to learn industry skills. Singapore imports more than 90 percent of its food, and generates up to 774,000 tons food waste per year. Only 20

percent for that is currently recycled. The city/state has a goal to produce up to 30 percent of its food domestically by 2030. With this mandate, aquaculture will play an important role in the future of Singapore’s food security. “Blue Aqua has been a strong advocate for sustainable and practical farming since its inception,” said Shishehchian, in the announcement of the MOU. “This partnership with dnata is a perfect fit. We are excited to grow our efforts in food technology to develop a circular economy in aquaculture globally through our network, starting in Singapore.” PAX-INTL.COM



Bangkok Air Catering has opened 14 businessto-consumer outlets

Tactful in Thailand Following a third wave of COVID-19 in Thailand, Bangkok Air Catering has all eyes on business-toconsumer revenue in the domestic market by JANE HOBSON


hailand did well to manage COVID-19 in the first year of the pandemic, but in 2021, containment has proven more difficult. According to the World Health Organization, Thailand reported 2,256 new confirmed cases on May 14, 2021, the day this article was written. This is a significant increase from the one confirmed case on the same day in 2020. The country has had 96,050 confirmed cases and 548 deaths to date and has administered nearly 2 million vaccine doses. With tourism at a halt in Thailand, Bangkok Air Catering spent much of the last year focused on its diversification strategy and bolstering its other core businesses. These units include premium hospital catering (Gourmet House Culinary Care), Gourmet House Group of Restaurants (Al Saray, Brasserie 9 and Ruen Noppagao) and food production (Gourmet Primo). But, with cases on the rise, the performance of each business remains unpredictable. “The third outbreak in Thailand is a huge wave that wiped out any growth momentum that the restaurant business sector just gained after the second wave subsided,” Linus A.E.

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Knobel, Managing Director of BAC Group tells PAX International. Other than the airline catering unit itself, Al Saray, Brasserie 9 and Ruen Noppagao have been most affected due to the restrictions, allowing only takeout and delivery. In the premium hospitality catering sector, business for Gourmet House Culinary Care has been slightly less gloomy, with revenue jumping more than 40 percent compared to the same period last year, Knobel says. “Our aim is to keep operations running, retain jobs, and ensure our people are safe and well taken care of during times of hardship, despite our revenue shortfalls,” he says.

Gourmet Primo positive

In a move to bulk up its business-toconsumer revenue in the domestic market, BAC opened its first Gourmet Primo bakery shop “Gourmet Food to Go” at Foodland Supermarket in October. Now, the venture has grown to 14 outlets, plus one additional outlet at a BTS SkyTrain station. The shops offer grab-and-go options with artisan breads, pastries, salad, sandwiches and pre-order birthday cakes.

“The shop has been positively received by local shoppers and office workers,” Knobel says. “Already, we have seen that people who use supermarkets and office commuters are eager to buy wholesome food made with pure ingredients. And that’s our specialty.” The company has plans to launch six additional outlets in the coming months.

Deli delights

Under the Gourmet Primo brand BAC Group has also launched eatfit and skydeli. The first is a healthy meal delivery service. With the slogan “Healthfully delicious,” BAC tapped its experience in-house nutritionist, research and development team and international chefs to create healthy food and beverages for delivery in thoughtful packaging. The range includes Asian and western hot dishes, salads, sandwiches, cold pressed juices, protein drinks and snacks. Delivery is available through the e-commerce eatfit shop, Facebook and Line. “We can honestly say that everything on the eatfit menu is satisfying, calorie-controlled and nutritionally balanced,” Knobel tells PAX. skydeli brings BAC’s lengthy experience in airline catering to customers on the ground. The skydeli shops offer gourmet inflight hot dishes, salads, desserts and juice in meal boxes. Featuring the slogan “Take a journey to deli-delights,” Knobel says the shops are located in BTS stations Sala Daeng and Chong Nonsi.




MAY 25-26 2021 F u t u r e Tr a v e l E x p e r i e n c e . c o m


















NEW FOR 2021

The APEX/IFSA Board of Governors will convene virtually this year to consider key industry priorities placed forward by the APEX Board of Directors and IFSA Board of Directors. The Board of Governors will each share their views and collectively agree on their strategic guidance for both associations.

The second phase of the ground-breaking FTE APEX Business Model Transformation Think Tank will have a major focus on redefining the food & beverage experience on the ground and up in the air. Industry leaders will unveil strategies for improving F&B options for passengers, optimising efficiency, increasing revenues and reducing wastage.



Catering qualms This regional report reviews the state of airlines, caterers and suppliers in Asia

AirAsia’s Santan dining experience allows people to order ASEAN inspired food and drink for delivery


n March 2020, the phrase ‘unprecedented times’ seemed just a trendy buzzword. More than a year later, the expression holds an uncomfortable truth with little to compare this time to when gauging recovery. Instead, the industry is watching passenger demand in different regions to evaluate when and how the return to travel might be coming.

Asia after others

In early-April, IATA released a report by Chief Economist Brian Pierce. The report found the passenger market to be weak while air cargo was strong in comparison. The IATA economic calculations are based on information sourced from Direct Data Solutions (DDS), an industry-sponsored program that provides access to global airline market data. Catering and provisioning business is the prognosis for the return of this summer’s critical travel pattern, and the report finds these bookings a cause for concern. North America is expected to recover quickest and Asia projected to be the slowest. The figures reveal that 2021 bookings for the region are at a mere 14 percent of the 2019 levels, and revenue is at 11 percent. There is a variety of reasons for this, including the general population’s wariness about the pandemic and the actions of governments and businesses eager to be seen doing the right thing. This may mean slim pickings for the region’s caterers and suppliers. While some larger flag-carriers, such as Singapore

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Singapore Airlines offers a selection of meals in its Premium Economy Class

May I take your order?

THAI Catering partnered with Tottori Prefecture to serve special menu made of crab from Tottori, Japan at the March 2021 Royal Orchid Dining Experience

Airlines, have generous government support to help them return to traditional spending, others, such as Thai Airways, are submitting rehabilitation plans because of substantial loss incurred due to COVID-19. Medium-sized carriers are battling through with loans, such as the interest-free VND4 trillion (US$173 million) refinancing loan for Vietnam Airlines’ lenders. The story for low-cost carriers is unpredictable, and airlines such as AirAsia and Malindo Air do little to help revive the airline catering business with their unique models for supply of provisioning.

Safety first

Airline caterers are more than familiar with the stringent safety standards demanded by airlines, and are probably the safest food sources because of this. The pandemic, however, brings a new layer of protocols that need to be addressed. As a guidance for caterers, the Airline Catering Association (ACA) and International Flight Services Association (IFSA) combined efforts to create the COVID-19 ACA/IFSA Guideline, published in January. The guideline is a 34-page downloadable compendium of COVID-19 best practices and guidelines for airline caterers globally. People from around the industry worked together to prepare the guideline, including representatives from Singapore-based SATS, Delta Air Lines, dnata, Flying Food Group, gategroup, LSG Group, Quality & Regulatory Innovations LLC, and WestJet.

When travel resumes, it may be that passengers are so eager to travel that they are happy to go anywhere and fly with any airline, reducing competition based strictly on carrier. Preorder services will come to the forefront as a way for airlines to enhance the inflight dining experience and compete amongst each other. Airlines may seek to leverage the pre-order service not just as a benefit to the dining experience, but as a clever way to further reduce waste and thus cost in provisioning. Whether chargeable or complimentary, the technology allowing for pre-ordering may become more prevalent. Singapore Airlines’ ‘Book the Cook’ inflight dining program in Suites, First Class and Business Class now extends to Premium Economy – although it is temporarily suspended in this cabin due to regulations. It allows the passenger to choose from a selection of meals up to 24 hours before flight. China Airlines offers ‘All Class Special Meal Pre-order’ and there is a Business Class pre-order option from All Nippon Airways. Meanwhile, IndiGo now only offers pre-ordered meals and has removed the provision of inflight purchase due to plunging numbers during 2020. This is a big change for the airline that once offered food and beverage for sale onboard including vegetarian options, juices and soft drinks. Before the pandemic, IATA reported India witnessing five percent growth year over year, and just less than 19 percent the year before. By contrast to North America and Europe, Asia has a massive cultural investment in food. South America does too, but the numbers don’t drive business models quite the same way as in Asia. The versatility in Asian cultural dining adds to the interest of the traveler, giving airlines an opportunity to compete – even in the LCC sector. AirAsia capitalizes on this via its Santan dining experience. A themed restaurant named after the Malay translation for coconut milk, there are multiple locations throughout Kuala Lumpur. Food can be ordered online and delivered.

Where to next?

The region is bound to come back strong. China ranks as the fastest growing market, with seven of the top 10 airports in passenger traffic for 2020 located in China, according to statistics from Airports Council International (ACI). This is supported by the growing disposable income, high standards of living, frequency of air travel and expanding affluent middle class in the country. This market particularly values access to healthy, nutritious food and is likely willing to pay a premium for quality food. Unfortunately for the world’s major caterers, penetrating this market is frustratingly difficult. Elsewhere in Asia-Pacific, many long-haul low-cost airlines were launched in recent years, such as AirAsia X, Jin Air and Lion Air. Bamboo Airways launched out of Vietnam is 2019. Air Premia took off in September in South Korea with both regional routes, and with US destinations on the radar, including New York, San Francisco, Los Angeles and San Jose by mid-2021. Vietravel Airlines, operating as a member of Vietravel Group, took to the skies in January. While the future is as unpredictable as ever, the introduction of new airlines in this model will likely be a driving factor for the catering market. One thing is for sure, even when volumes return to pre-pandemic levels, the business model for airline passenger provisioning looks set to change from the traditional past. PAX-INTL.COM



REDUCE, REUSE, ROTABLE Suppliers are mastering impressive rotable products as the demand grows. Warewashers weigh in on the benefits of rotables by JANE HOBSON

Disposable, recyclable, unbreakable PET cold cup from GIP

Light weight and crisp rotable china from GIP showcases the airline’s inflight food menu

20  JUNE 2021


ore and more airlines are moving to integrate sustainability into their brand to help reduce cabin waste and satisfy requests of post-pandemic consumers. According to the IATA Cabin Waste Handbook published in 2019, the airline industry produced an estimated 5.7 million tonnes of cabin waste in 2017, costing the sector US$927 million. IATA research indicates that more than 20 percent of this cabin waste is comprised of untouched food and drink. “Passenger concerns regarding airline waste practices are mounting and the sector is being challenged to embrace the circular economy,” said the report. And, the Buzz 2021 & Beyond – Trend & Insights Report reveals that consumers are more likely to support brands that value both sustainability and luxury. “Conscious luxury is the intersection of sustainability and luxury,” reads the Buzz report. “Luxury has moved away from wasteful opulence towards the value inherent in conscious design. Consumers are being selective about which brands they are loyal to, supporting brands that demonstrate a meaningful purpose and support an honest journey to make their world better.” To support the shift, suppliers such as Global Inflight Products and RMT Global Partners are offering more variety in rotable options.

Variety is possible

“As the popularity of eco-friendly products grew, airlines began to focus on transitioning their standard onboard products to incorporate more rotable options, using reusable or recycled materials,” says Alexa Wordsworth, Graphic Designer at Global Inflight Products (GIP). “This was an important trend developing and now continuing around the globe that draws considerable attention from customers – and ultimately their passengers.” GIP offers a range of rotable products from trays, plates and bowls to glasses, cups, cutlery and blankets. The blankets can be made with RPET (recycled plastic bottles) and all of these rotable products provide airlines with a one-stop solution for passengers and crew. GIP designs and customizes every onboard product to match the airline’s brand and requirements. Among the most popular materials is porcelain because it offers simple, long-lasting and impactful design for food service. With airline customers spanning from major US carriers to small airlines in Africa, offering an endless variety of rotable products helps GIP work with its customers to reduce global waste and support its “Green Is Possible” commitment. “Rotable products are a great way to keep waste down,” agrees Woon Yo, Graphic Designer at GIP. “It’s a smart and caring option.” But, she explains, not all products have ideal rotable solutions. This is especially true for the Economy Class cabin. Large volume products, such as paper napkins and disposable cold and hot cups, are better suited for GIP’s Green Is Possible line. Some of the products in the range include recyclable cups made from PET, and unbleached and biodegradable napkins made from sugarcane and post-industrial recycled paper.

A small step

The latest in the rotable offering from RMT Global Partners is sustainable drinkware. The custom-designed polycarbonate drinkware has crystal clarity and is an airline’s dream alternative to limited-use glass and single-use plastic, says RMT President and CEO Richard Tuttle. It offers superior durability and will not crack, shatter, break, cloud or discolor. The drinkware has been commercially wash-tested more than 2,000 times and has been pressuretested to ensure that it can withstand substantial impact. “It looks and feels like glass without the breakage and excess weight,” Tuttle tells PAX International. “It’s a small step for airlines to help reduce a large environmental impact.” Tuttle says he is interested to see how the airline industry develops its collective sustainability initiatives, in particular to incorporate more sustainable practices throughout the supply chain from design to manufacturing to final delivery as part of a circular economy.

Warewashing challenges

While the demand for warewashing has dropped due to the general dramatic downturn in air travel and inflight catering, coupled with the amount of ‘touch-free’ meal packaging produced from single-use materials, Tomas Jämtander, Diskomat Marketing Director Flight Catering Solutions, says he is confident that rotable products will make a comeback. When the return to travel happens, Jämtander says, rotable use will be on the rise, particularly for long-haul routes. Airlines will still want to highlight their onboard meal service as a competitive edge, he says. Plus, it’s a better long-term alternative for the environment. “From a perspective of a manufacturer and supplier of ware wash systems and dishwashers, the environmental impact is much gentler as opposed to the production and trashing of disposables,” Jämtander says. “Even caterers require more resources to handle and sort different fractions of waste.” The uptick in demand should not be a problem for powerful machines such as those made by Wexiödisk and distributed by Stockholm-based Diskomat, he adds. “More rotables will naturally increase the load and demand for energy efficient, robust and reliable dishwashers,” he says. Based in Germany, warewashing company Hobart has also experienced the decrease in demand since last year, says Head of Sales Airline Catering Johannes Zengerle. “From a warewashing perspective, it is of course better to use rotable products instead of single-use items,” he says. Confident that it will soon return to pre-pandemic demand levels, Zengerle points out the “reusable advantages” of rotable products, including waste avoidance, sustainability, reusability, long-term cost-reduction and customer-friendliness.

The rotable Crescent Collection by GIP pictured here on a tray set-up with coordinating cutlery



CATERING The three meal creations from Servair and Chef François Adamski are now circling the earth in the International Space Station

Cosmic creations Three meals chosen by French aerospace engineer Thomas Pesquet were developed in the kitchens of gategroup’s Servair, giving him a taste of home for the next six months at the International Space Station by RICK LUNDSTROM


François Adamski (L) and Thomas Pesquet met at Servair One to develop meals for his time at the International Space Station

22  JUNE 2021

s you’re reading this story, somewhere up above you, the crew of the International Space Station may be settling in for a meal and savoring dishes with a flavor and complexity that the early astronauts of Gemini and Apollo missions could only imagine. Circling the Earth at an astounding pace of about five miles per second is space mission Alpha, which launched April 22 aboard a SpaceX rocket. Aboard the mission is French aerospace engineer Thomas Pesquet, who may at this very moment be enjoying a bite of Beef bourguignon. Or, perhaps sharing flambéed crepes with Grand Marnier and orange zest, Suzette style, with fellow spacefarers and talking about how he enjoyed the food as a child. To pull off such a culinary coup, Pesquet, a former pilot for Air France, did not have to look far for a well-known source. Paris based Servair supplied him with 60 packaged meals (20 from each recipe) that he will ration during his six-month stint aboard the International Space Station. From Servair One (the oldest and largest unit in Paris)

Pesquet worked with Corporate Chef François Adamski. The pair landed on three dishes chosen from a group of nine that could stand up to the rigors of space travel. In addition to the aforementioned crepes meal, the beef Bourguignon is teamed with smoked farm breast, mushrooms and glazed onions. The third dish is a crunchy and creamy small spelt, melting celery and Périgord truffle. While hygiene certainly presents one challenge, producing a product that can retain a gourmet flavor in a tricky heating environment is quite the other. Since they are stored at room temperature, the team at Servair adjusted recipes to create meals with reduced sodium and alcohol content. Once heated, they deliver a “dense” texture suitable for consumption in a weightless environment. Adamski says the major challenges were creating a risotto that would be crunchy and creating meals that would preserve flavor whether they were fresh or in sterilized bags. The dishes were put to the test weeks before the mission by preparing them in flexible bags, with the help of Servair Engineer Marjorlaine le Guellec. Le Guellec worked with the Technical Center for the Conservation of Agricultural Products to develop sterilization techniques that involves high heat and flexible bags to deliver the finished meals. The flexible pouches are packed and compacted to cut back on weight and space. During the mission, the plastic bags are filled with water to rehydrate some dried foods, while the Servair meals are heated in a forced-air convection oven. Admaski called the months of preparation a “beautiful experience.” The Chef, who has been with Servair for two years, says that one of the most comparable experiences

is the sous vide cooking process that is often employed for First and Business Class meals on Air France. “We work diligently to adjust the seasonings every time until we obtained a product that was very close in taste to its non-space version,” he adds. Adamski says there are limited applications where the skills and techniques used for space travel dining could be employed elsewhere the the caterer’s food service operations. However, they may be useful for military and retail meals that Servair units also supply. For the astronauts circling day in and day out with the Earth out their window, floating in the blackness of space, the food takes an important role. Astronauts can only count food among approximately 10 percent of their provisions. They are keen to select meals with some important familiarity. Pesquet, in an interview with the New York Times, said that coming from a nation with such storied cuisine, his fellow astronauts are expecting good food from him to share. “I’m a terrible cook myself,” he told the Times. “But it’s OK if people are doing it for me.” Pesquet and Servair’s collaboration is one more chapter in a continuing story that has placed airline caterers at the forefront of food development for space flight. In 2018, German astronaut Alexander Gerst took meals from LSG Sky Chefs on his Horizons mission to the International Space Station. This was before LSG Group’s Europe catering operations were purchased by gategroup. One of Gerst’s bonus meals brought on the trip: a cheese spaetzle with bacon and chicken ragout eventually served on Lufthansa German Airlines on summer long-haul flights.

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Travel in style FORMIA has introduced a new brand collaboration onboard American Airlines, making the airline the first to offer eye masks and socks made from 100 percent recycled PET fabrics as part of its sustainability initiative by JANE HOBSON


irlines are busily realigning their brand with the ever-changing reality of post-pandemic travel, and for many, this means refocusing sustainability goals. Last year FORMIA introduced its sustainability strategy to help airlines achieve their objectives while benefiting the environment and passengers. Headquartered in Hong Kong, the company opened an Americas office in the center of Manhattan earlier this year. Led by the New York team, FORMIA is bringing its sustainability strategy into the cabins of American Airlines. The collaboration introduces amenity kits for premium cabin passengers in partnership with design brand Shinola and New York-based perfumers D.S. & Durga. The kits will roll out on flights between the US and London (LHR), with other long-haul international and transcontinental flights to follow throughout the summer. “We are delighted to have brought together three strong brands to create a

24  JUNE 2021

partnership that will give American Airlines’ passengers a truly unique and purposefully designed kit to take home and re-use,” said Roland Grohmann, CEO & Managing Partner of FORMIA. “We pride ourselves in curating meaningful products and experiences to enhance the customer journey and beyond, and are excited to support the launch of this industry-leading collection.” The First Class International bag is available in navy and black pebble grain faux leather with end-to-end zip opening and spacious interior, ideal as a post-flight washbag. Bags for First Class Transcontinental and Business Class International pay homage to Shinola’s wristlet wallet, featuring canvas and faux leather, a splashproof inner lining and two stylish colors (olive and dark navy). The Business Class Transcontinental and Premium Economy Class amenity bag echoes the distinctive wristlet wallet design in navy, featuring two zipper styles – a subtle, minimalist finish and a more playful contrasting color. Designed in partnership with Detroit-based

FORMIA has collaborated with American Airlines to bring luxury amenity kits into the cabin, in partnership with perfumers D.S. & Durga and Shinola, who has created desk clocks from the metal of retired aircraft

Shinola and made from recycled PET felt fabric, the bags will satisfy travel smart, sustainability-minded passengers as a must-have accessory. Each bag includes skincare products from D.S. & Durga, with aromas Rose Atlantic and Radio Bombay in lip balms and lotions. The kits make American the first airline to introduce eye masks and socks made from 100 percent PET fabrics as part of the first initiative of FORMIA’s sustainability strategy. strategy. The eye masks and socks will carry the Global Recycled Standard (GRS) international certification. FORMIA is absorbing the extra cost of the material, rendering the move to RPET fabric cost-neutral for airlines.

Time flies

As an extension of the partnership, Shinola is creating a desk clock featuring a dial made entirely from the original metal of American’s iconic, but now retired, fleet of McDonnell Douglas MD-80 aircraft. The MD-80s were the long-time backbone of American’s fleet before it was retired in 2019. Shinola is creating a limited 1,000 desk clocks, some with a vintage American Airlines logo, some without. Later this summer, Shinola wall clocks will be featured in select Admirals Club lounges .



Check-in area at Guangzhou Baiyun International Airport

As much of the world shut down for the COVID19 pandemic, airports in China moved to the forefront in passenger traffic last year



fter long dominating the world in yearly passenger traffic, Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport (ATL) slipped to second place in 2020 and was replaced at the top spot by Guangzhou Baiyun International Airport (CAN), logging more than 43.7 million passengers, compared to 42.9 million at ATL. The pandemic shift in airline passenger movement does not stop there. Seven of the 10 top airports in passenger traffic for 2020 are located in China. One in particular, Chongqing Jiangbei International Airport jumped to sixth place all the way from 48th, moving nearly 35 million passengers last year, according to the yearly statistics compiled by Airports Council International. ACI published the preliminary findings April 22, reflecting the dramatic impact of COVID-19 on what are ordinarily the world’s busiest airports. Global passenger traffic at the top 10 decreased by 45.7 percent in 2020. Overall, passenger traffic at the world’s airports decreased by 64.6 percent. “What we know about the Top 10 this year, is that it was very much affected by uneven travel restrictions in different regions,” explains Patrick

Lucas, Vice President of Economics at ACI in Montreal. While he says he expects ATL to return to the top spot for passenger traffic next year, airports in China, particularly Beijing Capital International Airport (PEK) and the newly opened Beijing Daxing Airport (PKX) will remain in the Top 10. As passenger traffic lagged through much of the world, air cargo movement performed well by comparison, posting only a 12 percent decline from 2019. By the end of 2020, ACI reported that cargo volume had rebounded to pre-pandemic levels. What will drive more tonnage will be an increase in capacity, says Lucas.

“Cargo should get a boost when belly capacity recovers with the restart of international travel, mostly operated by wide body,” he says. “Online retail should stay strong and the overall industry recovery will likely fuel the demand for air cargo.” To increase the number of comfortable, confident passengers, groups like ACI are developing programs to stimulate demand by launching initiatives like the ACI Airport Health Accreditation Programme. They are also calling on world governments to reduce passengerbased taxes and economic regulation. “Airports should be free to tailor the structure and level of airport charges to their specific circumstances and develop targeted pricing strategies that meet their specific market situations,” says Lucas. Additionally, he says airports should have the freedom to set charges to cover operations and capital costs.









Number (millions) 2020


Guangzhou (CAN)



Atlanta (ATL)




Chengdu (CTU)





Dallas/Ft. Worth (DFW)





Shenzhen (SZX)





Chongqing (CKG)





Beijing (PEK)





Denver (DEN)





Kunming (KMG)





Shanghai (SHA)





Essence of the Expo

FTE’s Daniel Coleman and APEX’s Dr. Joe Leader give details on what to expect at FTE APEX Virtual Expo 2021 by JANE HOBSON


TE APEX Virtual Expo 2021 kicks off May 25 to 26. The theme is ‘Relaunching global air transport,’ focusing on the ideas, concepts and solutions needed to drive the global restart of aviation. As a Media Partner for the event, PAX Tech and PAX International met with FTE Founder and CEO Daniel Coleman and APEX/IFSA CEO Dr. Joe Leader to learn about the event highlights that stand to take the Virtual Expo to new heights. “This really isn’t just another webinar,” Coleman tells PAX. “We are really proud to provide a platform for the many established industry suppliers who pivoted to make their proposition even more relevant to the times that we’re living in.” Coleman says this year’s Expo sees many new exhibitors, such as Reckitt, the hygiene conglomerate behind brands such as Dettol. Exhibitors in health safety and commercial innovation are joining the Expo as these sectors are becoming even more important to the industry. Some suppliers, such as FORMIA, are

26  JUNE 2021

even innovating their own presentation centers to adapt to the virtual landscape. Live surveys will be issued to attendees, seeking to gain insights from industry players about what practices may stick around postpandemic; what protocols airlines and airports might maintain. “We’re going to give all of our attendees a very fresh perspective on what’s possible in a new world,” says Leader. The conference will share case studies from those who are doing more than just talking, Coleman says. Insights from key industry trials will be revealed, as well as learnings and visions of the future from many industry segments. The list of CEO speakers includes United Airlines, Western Sydney Airport, Turkish Airlines, Etihad Airways and more. Speakers will take a deep dive into the strategies for recovery and what they have learned. AirAsia will participate in a guest session to share details about its evolution of reimagining what it means to be an airline in the years ahead.

Other conference features include the Business Model Transformation Think Tank. FTE launched a crowdsourcing effort in March for the 2021 Expo, for which the submitted suggestions will be presented at the upcoming event. While usually hosted behind closed doors, the APEX/IFSA Board of Governors meeting will be live broadcast. At the meeting, the Board will set the agenda for the year ahead, with an eye on health safety, sustainability, personalization and biometrics. This year’s event also introduces a special Expo conference stage that is free for everyone. Only premium attendees were invited to this stage at last year’s event. “FTE and APEX wanted to make certain that everyone [gets] access to the great insights,” Leader says. “We learned a tremendous amount from the last [FTE APEX Virtual] Expo and we made some big changes that really will encourage a lot more one-to-one interaction. It’s going to make it feel much more [engaging] until we get back to in-person events just a few months from now.”


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Articles inside

ESSENCE OF THE EXPO FTE’s Daniel Coleman and APEX’s Dr. Joe Leader give details on what to expect at FTE APEX Virtual Expo 2021

pages 26-28

COSMIC CREATIONS Three meals chosen by French aerospace engineer Thomas Pesquet were developed in the kitchens of gategroup’s Servair, giving him a taste of home for the next six months at the International Space Station

pages 22-23

A NEW SPIRIT Qantas Airways revisits its roots in Longreach, Queensland – and finds the flavors for its new brand of gin

pages 10-11

CANTEEN CATERING During a pandemic, food service at a hospital poses particular challenges, but SATS found a way to bring touchless service and some of its well-known dishes to a health care environment

pages 12-13

CATERING QUALMS This regional report reviews the state of airlines, caterers and suppliers in Asia

pages 18-19

TRAVEL IN STYLE FORMIA has introduced a new brand collaboration onboard American Airlines, making the airline the first to offer the supplier’s eye masks and socks made from 100 percent recycled PET fabrics

pages 24-25

REDUCE, REUSE, ROTABLE Suppliers are mastering impressive rotable products as the demand grows. Warewashers weigh in on the benefits of rotables

pages 20-21

RESTART ON THE RISE In this guest column, Keerthi “HappyK” Hapugasdeniya, Founder of HappyK Solutions, gives an update on two key airlines in Vietnam, plus a snapshot of the country’s plans to reopen come September

pages 8-9

WASTE NO MORE The Singapore catering unit of dnata has found a unique partner to deal with a food waste issue that has plagued airline caterers for decades

pages 14-15
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