PAX International SIAL Middle East/Onboard Catering 2016

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VOL. 23, NO. 6



SIAL MIDDLE EAST/ONBOARD CATERING Luxury Report Executive Gourmet in Abu Dhabi Bahrain Airport Services








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isitors to this year’s SIAL Middle East and OnBoard Catering event in Abu Dhabi will this year have a chance to see the airport’s massive Midfield Terminal take shape and move ahead for an opening approximately a year from now. Tens of millions of labor hours have been invested in the Dh10.8 billion (US$3 billion) project that will place the structure among the largest in the world. Construction of the 700,000-square-meter terminal is set to be 90% complete by the end of this year. The terminal will be needed to accommodate a rapidly expanding route network for Etihad Airways, which will do its part to push airport use in Abu Dhabi past the 26 million-passenger mark this year. Abu Dhabi is fighting for a position in the UAE tourism to rival nearby Dubai. The Emirates’ Tourism and Cultural Authority is attempting to help by launching a worldwide campaign to highlight the capital’s “extraordinary stories” stressing cultural authenticity and natural resources that harken back to the region’s ancient past. With a little effort, it should be easy to find the promotions. Commercials

dedicated to GCC and international markets will be broadcast on TV networks, digital channels and inflight entertainment systems. Also in production are five-promotional videos highlighting tourism, culture, events and cruise experiences in Abu Dhabi. The commercials and videos seek to capture a range of authentic moments, landscapes and emotions shot across 40 locations in the Emirate. These include UAE capital cityscapes and landmarks, nature reserves and island resorts, forts and palaces in Al Ain, as well as the deserts and coastline of the Al Gharbia Western Region. The Emirate seems to be moving ahead in its efforts to prepare for the future, while seeking to educate travelers on its storied past. Expect to see some of the area’s cultural richness one of the next times you settle back and tune into the award-winning inflight entertainment system on Etihad.

CONTRIBUTORS Mary Jane Pittilla

A R T D E PA R T M E N T Jessica Hearn E-mail:

ADVERTISING OFFICES Kevin Greene, Advertising Sales Executive Tel: (1 905) 821-3344 x31 E-mail: PAX International is published six times a year (January/February, March/April, May, June/July/August, September/October, November/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. December 2016, Vol. 23, No. 6. Printed in Canada. All rights reserved. Nothing may be reprinted in whole or in part without written permission from the publisher. © PAX International magazine

Rick Lundstrom Editor-in-Chief, PAX International

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VOL. 23, NO. 6





Airport construction and new airline customers place Bahrain Airport Services in a position for growth in the years to come


The year 2016 has been a busy one for dnata, with new units opening in faraway Australia, consolidation and shifting desires by longtime customers. The company’s Robin Padgett weighs in on the Emirates subsidiary’s year



From supplying one airline to more than 20 today, Bangkok Air Catering has spent the past decade developing partnerships and expanding its reach both within and beyond the confines of inflight catering


Qatar Aircraft Catering Company, the catering arm of Qatar Airways, has come a long way since the opening of its new headquarters at Hamad International Airport in 2014. Mary Jane Pittilla reports


Executive Gourmet at Al Bateen Airport in Abu Dhabi has grown from a small operation to a round-the-clock producer of high-quality cuisine for the most discerning passengers in the UAE




VOL. 23, NO. 6



SIAL MIDDLE EAST/ONBOARD CATERING Luxury Report Bahrain Airport Services Executive Gourmet in Abu Dhabi

ON THE COVER: Photo of Balik Salmon courtesy of Etihad Airways

By presenting new offerings, menus and catering concepts on a continual basis, Etihad Airways has managed to offer an inflight meal service that is as varied and creative as the needs of its passengers


New routes and an impressive order of Boeing and Airbus aircraft has Gulf Air poised for a “new era” in 2017 and beyond



















The Wonderful Company’s line of pistachio snack products is making inroads among duty free operators as the company works to improve the lives of its employees



Suppliers of amenity kits in the First Class cabin are looking to designer collaborations in their quest to create a luxury experience for passengers and high perceived value for their airline customers



Three events, each with their own themes and dynamics combined in the Lion City at the end of October with major deals, some in the billions of dollars, had attendees talking the future of IFEC


Chef Eero Vottonen to develop Finnair Signature Menu Finnair announced November 1 a new partnership with Finnish Chef Eero Vottonen for its latest Signature Menu collaboration. “The Signature Menu cooperation with Eero Vottonen will bring true Nordic elements to Finnair’s long-haul business class customers flying out of Helsinki to all destinations as of January 11, 2017,” said a release from Finnair. Last year, Vottonen was selected as Finland’s candidate for the Bocuse d’Or competition taking place in Lyon, France every second year. The Bocuse D’Or brings together 24 chefs to compete on the international stage. During his career, Vottonen has worked in the top kitchens of Finland including restaurants such as Chez Dominique, Luomo, G.W. Sundmans and Olo. “Eero has fast become one of the best chefs in Scandinavia and we are very excited to offer our long-haul business class passengers with his exceptional food,” says Maarit Keränen, Head of In-Flight Service at Finnair. “With next year marking Finland’s centennial anniversary, it’s a great opportunity for us to collaborate with Finland’s candidate for the Bocuse d’Or competition. We’d like to wish Eero all the best as he sets his sights on the final preparations for the prestigious event in January.” “Throughout the past few years, I’ve been fortunate enough to have the chance to work with many top chefs and I’ve learned a wide variety of ways and views on food through these experiences,” said

Flying Food Group caters new SQ A350 route from SFO Flying Food Group is catering the new Singapore Airlines direct, non-stop service between San Francisco and Singapore. The daily A350 flights launched October 23 and the aircraft is the 10,000th built by Airbus since production began in the 1970’s. Singapore Airlines has been a Flying Food customer at SFO since 2002. The caterer also supplies Singapore Airlines at New York JFK. The new flights are the longest in the Singapore Airlines network. Flying time ranges between 14:35 hours and 17:45 hours depending on direction and time of year. The A350-900 offers passengers an improved traveling experience with higher ceilings, larger windows, an extra wide body and lighting designed to reduce jetlag. Singapore Airlines took delivery of its first A350-900 in March and now has six, with another 61 on firm order, including seven of the ultra-long-range A350-900ULR variant. Singapore Airlines is the launch customer for the A350-900ULR, Singapore Airlines’ A350 is which will be delivered catered in San Francisco in 2018. The aircraft will be used to re-launch non-stop flights between Singapore and both New York and Los Angeles. SIA serves San Francisco twice daily, with the other flight operating via Hong Kong. 6  |  PAX INTERNATIONAL  |  DECEMBER 2016

Vottonen. “The philosophy I bring to cooking is actually quite simple, the flavor always comes first and I want to use quality ingredients that are sourced from nearby suppliers.”

One of the first of the Signature meals from Eero Vottonen

AIRLINE NEWS AirFi brings wireless to Nesma Cabins

AirFi announced at the APEX Expo in Singapore the signing of its first customer in the Middle East – and 21st customer globally – Nesma Airlines. Nesma plans to use the company’s streaming IFE solution on its A320 family aircraft starting this month. AirFi’s fully featured portable Wireless IFE platform allows passengers to access DRM and non-DRM movies and TV shows, games, chat, duty free and post-flight shopping and daily updated news and social feeds. The company currently works with more than 50 content providers, including its official regional partner, Onboard International. AirFi’s acquisition of a European technology firm earlier this year gave the company the ability to offer a state-of-the-art 3D moving map. This new feature showcases numerous points of interest and offers the opportunity for geo-fenced advertising. Passengers can access the content using their personal electronic devices to connect to a free onboard Wi-Fi network created by the AirFi boxes, which are positioned in overhead bins. AirFi will initially offer Nesma’s passengers content in English, with the roll-out of Arabic-language content due soon after the solution goes live. “We are delighted to welcome Nesma to the AirFi family and to open up another new region here in the Middle East with our partner Onboard International,” said AirFi CEO, Job Heimerikx, in last week’s announcement. “We are dedicated to a continuous program of passenger experience enhancements and ensuring that the AirFi platform leads the market as the best-in-class hard and software solution for safety, performance, cost and speed of deployment.” So far, it has 18 European customers, as well as one carrier based in the Philippines and one based in Mexico have taken the product. Nesma operates scheduled domestic and international flights within Saudi Arabia. Domestic cabins are all economy class and offer snacks and hot and cold beverages. The airline has been operating since June 2010. The airline has a fleet of A321, A320, A319 and ATR72-600 aircraft.

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JetBlue adds luxury kits to Mint service JetBlue announced in October it would introduce its new customdesigned amenity kits from New York City-based Hayward and Hopper and onboard comfort items supplier Clip. Hayward and Hopper creator and founder Marin Hopper, daughter of Hollywood legends Dennis Hopper and Brooke Hayward, drew upon her creativity, personal style and extensive family archives to create chic, comforting and classic amenity kits for JetBlue’s Mint. The Hayward kit, designed for female passengers is made from signature Hayward denim and includes a delicate brass zipper, designed by her legendary grandfather, Leland Hayward. The Hopper kit, designed for men, is fabricated in a natural cotton canvas with an artisanal feel. “The moment I took my first JetBlue flight, I fell in love with the airline and I have been a big fan ever since,” said Marin Hopper, in a release from JetBlue. “With the impeccable service, quality and spirit of the JetBlue Mint experience in mind, I’ve created kits with American-made products to delight customers and to add an extra-special layer of luxury that we all desire when traveling.” From all natural lip balms to refreshing towelettes, all personal care products included in the kits are made in the United States and hand-picked by Hayward and Hopper. Products are packaged in the exclusive Hayward bag for women and Hopper bag for men. Each kit also comes with a matching eye mask as well as screen cloths illustrated with photographs taken by Hollywood legend Dennis Hopper and provided by the Hopper Art Trust archives. “We loved the Hayward and Hopper sense of New York sophis-

tication and old Hollywood style – a nod to our launch cities that fell in love with Mint from the start,” said Jamie Perry, vice president of marketing at JetBlue. “Every touch in Mint is thoughtfully considered, and we will continue to push the boundaries on premium travel by evolving Mint as we bring it to new cities in the months ahead.” The Hayward kit is designed for female passengers


En Route and Emirates serve pink products for breast cancer awareness En Route stepped up its support for Breast Cancer Care — the only specialist UK-wide charity providing care, support and information for those affected by breast cancer — this past October (Breast Cancer Awareness Month), and raised awareness amongst passengers and

crew by serving pink-themed products on board Emirates. For the third year running, the international food solutions expert will consolidate its support to Breast Cancer Care by more than doubling its donation this year to £25,000 (US$30,482). In addition, En Route has launched a new selection of treats on Emirates flights, packCrew will be offered Stoates aged with the slogan, “The Power of Pink”. Cranberry and Raspberry Porridge (right) while passengers are Crew will be offered Stoats Cranberry and presented with Biscottea Strawberry Shortbread or Organic Chocolate Raspberry Porridge, which is a nutritious Coated Berries (left and middle) blend of Scottish oats that turns a perfect pink color when the cranberries and raspberries are stirred in, topped with a sprinkle of brown sugar. Passengers, meanwhile, will be treated to one of two scrumptious pink treats: Biscottea Strawberry Shortbread, made with natural ingredients, or Organic Chocolate Coated Berries, an indulgent melange of dried strawberries and blueberries coated in white chocolate, dried strawberries dipped in milk chocolate and dried raspberries lavished in dark chocolate.



FORMIA forum focuses on lifestyle trends FORMIA presented its trend-watching findings and consumer trends research at FORUM365 — the annual industry forum hosted by FORMIA — which was held in September during the annual industry forum in Cannes at the JW Marriott. By continuously tracking trends in lifestyle, fashion and design, FORMIA is able to translate its findings into innovative new ideas aimed at improving airlines’ inflight services. Presented by Marco Serusi, Senior Consultant of SimpliFlying who is well known for his cutting-edge research into the latest aviation marketing and social media trends, the forum highlighted how airlines can differentiate themselves from others. Serusi pointed out that airlines try to find new ways to make their brands stand out, but only a few succeed. He added that some airlines have found success by associating their brand with an idea and owning it. The forum concluded that to be successful, each brand needs to “own” a differentiating element, which with its brand can become associated. For example, the brand that is well-known in Finnair’s region is Marimekko, and the brand’s collaboration with the airline became very successful in Asia. Likewise, Turkish Airlines has successfully associated itself with quality food thanks to DO & CO cater-

ing. In either case, established brands can use their image to help airlines stand out with something that does not originate in the aviation world and therefore, will be harder for competitors to replicate. FORMIA’s next FORUM365 is scheduled to take place in April 2017 at the World Travel Catering and Onboard Catering Expo (WTCE) in Hamburg. Marco Serusi, Senior Consultant of SimpliFlying speaks at FORUM 365 in Cannes











Phitek adds to global sales team

Judith Hill

Lester Lauzardo

Phitek has four additions to its global sales team to complement their recent EASA Part 21G approval. The new team composed of Lester Lauzardo for the Americas, Mark Stevens for Europe, Kevin Kao for China and Taiwan, and Judith Hill who will represent Phitek for IFE vendors. Paul Simmonds will continue to represent Phitek in Asia Pacific and the Middle East, and Emeric Collonge who is a technical lead for business development in Europe. Lauzardo is based in Dallas. He started his career as an aircraft mechanic in the U.S. Marine Corps and progressing through the industry with Program Management and Sales roles. Hill has more than 20 years of aviation sales and business development experience.

Forbes joins digEcor operations team digEcor announced in October that Paul Forbes has been named Vice President of Operations. Forbes will be based in the Australian head office in Brisbane and will be handling all operations management across the digEcor network.

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Forbes began his career with Contour (now Zodiac Aircraft Seating) in the United Kingdom in early 2000 and has since held operations, engineering program, project management and PMO roles with Airbus, Jet Aviation and UTC Aerospace. In addition to his mechanical engineering and software development background Forbes also has significant experience in manufacturing. digEcor’s partner company Microair Avionics, an avionics design and manufacturing specialist based in Bundaberg Queensland is also included in Forbes remit.

Two veterans joint FTS Technologies At this year’s APEX, Singapore-based FTS Technologies announced that Jack Sunabe has joined the company as Director of Program Management and Rich Salter is the company’s new Chief Technical Officer. Salter was one of the co-founders of Lumexis and has been a board member for APEX and the World Airline Entertainment Association and was a co-founder of Airshow moving map displays and worked as a consultant for inflight entertainment for airlines and suppliers. Sunabe also has a long career in the industry. He has worked at Rockwell Collins and Sony Trans Com. He was also part of the group at Lumexis, serving as Vice President OEM Programs and New Product Development. Earlier this year, Ben Fuller formerly of digEcor joined FTS as Director of Marketing for the Americas.

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Catering in


Airport construction and new airline customers place Bahrain Airport Services in a position for growth in the years to come

Average daily meal output at BAS Catering is approximately 18,000 meals per day


rogress is taking place on the ground and in the air around Bahrain International Airport. Earlier this year, the Civil Aviation Affairs (CAA) Bahrain hosted its biennial air show and took the opportunity of the event for a progress report on the 222,000-square-meter terminal now in development that promises to accommodate up to 14 million passengers per year. Planners have set a timeline of 2020 for completion of the terminal. By the time delegates and visitors gather in Abu Dhabi for this year’s SIAL and travel catering event, the flag carrier, Gulf Air, would have expanded its route structure serving an important Pakistan market and the airport will also welcome a returning carrier in the form of SirLankan Airlines, which will operate five flights per week to Bahrain, further strengthening the Kingdom’s position as an emerging hub for airlines in the Middle East/North Africa (MENA) region. All of this is good news for the airport’s ground handling and sole airline catering operation in Manama, Bahrain Airport Services. PAX International caught up with Bahrain Airport Services during a fall period of transition. The company working under the helm of an acting CEO, Salman


Al-Mahmeed. Total number of staff was approximately 600 of which around 500 work for the travel catering unit while another 100 work at the airport terminal. Daily meal production for the company’s half-dozen airline customers was approximately 18,000 per day. Despite running below the kitchen’s peak capacity, Msallam El Nabulsi, Senior Manager Catering Services said the caterer was looking forward to additional flights by Gulf Air. Bahrain Airport Services Catering was also stepping up its efforts to find off-airport catering customers that have grown in possibilities and numbers. Twenty-six commercial airlines currently operate service into Bahrain International airport, where BAS is the sole caterer. In addition to outbound and return catering for Gulf Air, BAS also handles food service at the airport for British Airways, KLM Royal Dutch Airlines, Lufthansa German Airlines, Cathay Pacific Airways and Egyptair. BAS also caters cargo flight from Atlas Air and DHL, the latter operates a hub operation in Bahrain. In the terminal, BAS operates the Sky Restaurant at the departure concourse, while also preparing special meals and snacks for the premium passenger lounges from Gulf Air and the Dilmun Lounge, which is open to Priority Pass

members. Some of the company’s offairport catering operations include the Kingdom’s Ministry of Health, shipyards and three terminals at the seaport, the Ministry of Health, King Hamad University Hospital, ASRY (shipyard) and APM Terminals (seaport). After a period of downsizing that lasted three years, Gulf Air is now bringing aircraft back into service. The airline has added flights to both Pakistan and India. Starting December 1, Gulf Air increased service to Sialkot the northeast city of the Punjab region of Pakistan. Sialkot is Pakistan’s 12th most populous city. The additional service was needed to cater to the needs of the 3.5 million Pakistani nationals that live in the Gulf region. In 2015 Gulf Air started service to the Pakistan cities of Multan and Faisalabad, bringing the total number of cities served from Bahrain to Pakistan to seven. In addition to airline catering, BAS handles a number of other operations at the airport, including ground support, cargo handling, engineering and training. The company’s ground handling recently expanded its reach in early September to provide Gulf Air with services at airports in Saudi Arabia. For the service, BAS had teamed with Swissport International.


Bahrain Airport Company announced at the end of the last year’s air show in the kingdom that it has selected Arabtec as the contractor for the US$1.1 billion main airport terminal. The new terminal is part of a 20-year airport expansion plan for the master terminal and an expansion and refurbishment of the airport’s existing terminal that was designed to handle around 9 million passengers per year. Among the features in the departure hall of 4,600 square meters are premium class check-in halls, a passport clearance area with 36 booths, five electronic gates, eight baggage carousels and a 1,000 square meter duty free shop. For passengers the new arrivals terminal will have 108 check-in desks, 24 passport control stations, 28 security lanes and a 9,000 square meter duty free retail area. Also part of the construction will be premium class lounges, food and beverage areas and 24 departure gates.


Around 500 employees work at BAS Catering with another 100 in airport operations


In the midst of

change The year 2016 has been a busy one for dnata, with new units opening in faraway Australia, consolidation and shifting desires by longtime customers. The company’s Robin Padgett weighs in on the Emirates Group subsidiary’s year by RICK LUNDSTROM

Traditional onboard meal service still accounts for approximately 60% of dnata’s sales


obin Padgett, dnata’s Divisional Senior Vice President had just returned from a weekend in Melbourne, Australia, sizing up the company’s next airline catering project, and excited about its possibilities when it opens for operations in the second quarter of next year. Staff at the unit were playing a very active part, giving their input regarding the unit’s design. At 11,400 square meters, the Melbourne kitchen will be dnata’s largest catering unit in Australia. It will supply an average of 4,000 flights and prepare more than 390,000 meals per month.

Robin Padgett, Divisional Senior Vice President at dnata


When it joins the other units found on the continent, Padgett said he is confident that the company will be able to say G’day to a growing number of airline customers at every important stop. “An airline flying to any significant airport in Australia will be welcomed by an Alpha Australia caterer so that they can find cracking quality food there,” he said. The construction project comes on the heels of an opening of an Alpha Australia unit in the Cairns. The dnata name may be relatively new to Australia, but Alpha Flight Services has been a presence, headquartered in Queensland, since 1982 when it began selling sandwiches to a single customer. Now the company has more than 30 airline customers at its 10 catering units. In 2008, Alpha’s Australia operations produced 6 million meals. By the end of this year, production is expected to reach 20 million. The company is also mixing it up with a large group of caterers, that includes units by the major players and Qantas’ Q Catering. All to the good, says Padgett. “It is a vibrant market down there and that is how we like it,” he said. “We love a bit of competition and that is where I think the customer wins.” Australia is only one market in the vast airline catering reach that the Emirates Group subsidiary assumed with the purchase of Alpha Flight Services. In the

time since the buyout, dnata has forged partnerships with companies they often compete head to head with and has worked to adapt its product offering to the commercial aviation industry that is again, finding the importance of inflight food service, but also embracing the buy-onboard models that rely heavily on the sophisticated and high-technology tracking of passenger preferences, as well as refined sales techniques. In the 2015-16 fiscal year, dnata realized the highest profit in its 57 years of operation, ending the year AED1 billion (US$287 million) in black on AED 10.6 billion (US$ 2.9 billion) in sales. The company’s airline catering business accounted for AED 1.9 billion (US$514 million) to the company’s overall totals from its units, scattered across 14 countries. Revenues for the year dropped 7%, which could be attributed to a weakening of currencies against the US dollar where the company ties much of its operations. While the currency shift, particular the pound sterling and the euro have created some headwinds and a challenge for the company, Padgett said “overall, we are pretty happy.” Part of that reason has been the company’s customers that are returning home to realizing the importance of onboard food service. “Generally, we are seeing fairly buoyant demand and fairly active investment by

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DNATA in a weekend of training and fun where top producers from the airlines are given cash awards for the best in onboard sales. While the buy-on-board programs represent earning potential revenue, they also play a new, important role in operations. With technology to aid them, airlines make use of accumulated data and buying patterns to help take the guesswork out of purchasing and boarding food products. The company has compiled some sophisticated analyses of the buying habits of its airline customers, gauging demand in some cases down to specific routes. “It becomes quite exciting from that perspective, and I think it will help to push choices onboard more toward what a customer really wants of us as airline caterers instead of having to guess what they wanted,” said Padgett. “It will drive satisfaction levels up because the customer, through the purchasing habits, will tell us more about what they want.”

The airline-catering sector of dnata Group logged US$514 million in sales in the previous fiscal year

Other dnata operations

airlines in their onboard programs, which is a heartwarming and nice place to be,” said Padgett. While traditional airline catering is still the bread and butter of dnata’s food and beverage business, it represents a decreasing amount. In a recent Reuter’s interview, Padgett revealed that standard catering represents approximately 60% of its revenue, while buy-on-board accounts for 40% and has a significant opportunity for growth. The airline food service world and traveling public learned this past fall that one of the final holdouts, British Airways, announced that it would be filling its shorthaul economy class flights with sandwiches for sale by Marks & Spencer. While the practice has been happening all over the world, for many years, the British Airways announcement caused a stir in the airline world and made headlines all over Europe. However, Padgett and dnata have been watching the shift for some time. The


company operates in a region where construction workers often returned to the Middle East while enjoying meals purchased onboard from one of the low-cost carriers in the region. Like the United States and other regions in the world, buyon-board products will play a significant role among airlines and by extension, dnata, said Padgett. But where there is opportunity, there is also challenges. “It is a much more sophisticated and a much more technically difficult bit of work to do,” Padgett said. “And it is something that I think requires different abilities.” Like other companies, dnata is helping its airline customers build an effective retail operation, through technology and human resource development. Over the years, the Alpha LSG operation in the United Kingdom has been working with charter carriers like Thomson and Monarch with a training and awards program that rewards top sellers and conducts training in onboard sales. The program culminates

Airline catering is one leg of the stool that makes up dnata’s operations. In its 2015-2016 financial year, the company earned the brunt of its revenue from airport operations in the UAE and beyond. In the mature markets in the company’s home country, dnata saw its cargo handling and airport operations grow substantially. Sales from aircraft and cargo handling in the UAE increased 13% in the most recent fiscal year to AED2.9 billion (US$777 million), part of which dnata attributed to the 80-day runway closure at Dubai International Airport the previous year. The company’s international operations saw the largest growth at 32% to AED2.1 billion (US$571 million). dnata attributed the increase to newly acquired business in the Netherlands and Brazil. Over the fiscal year, dnata acquired Aviapartner’s business at Amsterdam Airport Schiphol, Airport Handling SpA at two airports in Milan and RM Ground Services in Brazil. The other leg of the company’s stool is the Travel Division. There, dnata grew 34% to AED3.3 billion (US$ 901 million) aided primarily by the business growth in its purchase of the Stella Group in October of 2014.




BAC utilizes a kosher kitchen as well as halal and non-halal kitchens

From supplying one airline to more than 20 today, Bangkok Air Catering has spent the past decade developing partnerships and expanding its reach both within and beyond the confines of inflight catering by


n 2004, just two years before the opening of Suvarnabhumi International Airport in Bangkok, another milestone was taking place — it was the year Bangkok Air Catering Co., Ltd. (BAC) was founded. BAC’s first full operation occurred on March 2005 — just six months before the airport opened — and served as a test run of the facility’s system to ensure a successful first official operation. During these six months, BAC produced food for Bangkok Airways and made deliveries to Asia’s oldest airport, Don Muang International Airport in Bangkok. BAC’s official start up was in late September 2006, with a total of five airline customers and a 20,000-square-meter unit designed for the maximum production of 25,000 meals a day. Three years later, BAC’s portfolio grew to an impressive 21


airlines. After restructuring its workflow, BAC successfully increased production efficiency, bringing the unit’s maximum capacity to 30,000 meals a day. Today, BAC produces on average 27,000 meals a day and works with a growing list of airlines including: Emirates, Qatar Airways, Oman Air, flydubai, Kuwait Airways, Ethiopian Airlines, Turkish Airlines, Bangkok Airways, Garuda Indonesia and SWISS International Air Lines among others. “BAC has strong strategies for working closely with its clients, developing partnerships and exercising commitment and flexibility,” says Amorn Rassamesangpetch, Director Corporate Communications for Bangkok Air Catering Co., Ltd. With these strategies under its belt, BAC is actively planning to expand its reach. In line with this plan, BAC has already begun Bangkok Air Catering Co., Ltd. (BAC) was founded in 2004, just two years before the opening of Suvarnabhumi International Airport in Bangkok

managing BAC Samui and will begin managing BAC Phuket in July 2017. In order to diversify its business, BAC stepped outside of the inflight catering arena to explore the restaurant business and now operates two restaurants — AL SARAY, Fine Lebanese & Indian Cuisine, and BRASSERIE 9, Fine French Cuisine — and plans to open the second branch of both restaurants in the heart of Bangkok City, Silom and Sathorn road. In addition to its new restaurant ventures, BAC also runs Gourmet House Culinary Care, a production company that produces food for patients receiving care at Bangkok Hospital. “We now provide to five branches of Bangkok Hospital and will be handling the sixth branch at Bangkok Hospital Soonvijai — the hospital’s headquarters — in February 2017,” says Rassamesangpetch. In addition, the caterer is busy with its new customized food plant called Gourmet Primo, which is set to open next October. Rassamesangpetch says the plant is intended to be a cost-saving and qualitycontrol solution for caterers and hotels.

Thinking inside the box

BAC recently developed its Kosher Box for inflight service. Part of the development process involved trying several different recipes to determine which could withstand freezing. Because BAC employs a technology that can freeze ingredients without causing crystallization inside the box, the texture of the food inside the  |  PAX INTERNATIONAL  |  21

CATERER PROFILE: BANGKOK AIR CATERING Kosher Box will not become damaged once defrosted. “It does not matter if the food items are fruit, chicken or meat, the texture of each remains fresh, as if it is being consumed straight from the kitchen,” explains Rassamesangpetch. “Using the same technology, we produced a frozen calzone with different fillings — meat and vegetable — that maintains its flavor and condition after it is defrosted and reheated.” In addition to its kosher kitchen where its Kosher Box is handled, BAC also has certified halal and non-halal kitchens. “Our unit is halal-certified with a certain part of the production capacity deemed nonhalal,” explains Rassamesangpetch. “This is in addition to our separate kosher kitchen.” Rassamesangpetch says the number of halal food items on board is steadily increasing, which means most airlines are now offering fewer pork products and desserts that do not meet Halal regulations. “Once these meals have been produced in our halal-certified unit, they are automatically halal regulated,” explains Rassamesangpetch. “This is because we purchase only halal-certified raw materials, which can be used in both areas — halal and non-halal.” Aside from kosher and halal food items, Rassamesangpetch says he has felt the impact of the healthy eating trend that has become quite prominent for some time now. Because BAC’s subsidiary, GOURMET HOUSE CULINARY CARE

(GHCC), has its own nutritionist who works closely with doctors in hospitals on meals for specific patients with particular dietary restrictions, Rassamesangpetch has become more familiar about the particularities of healthy eating. “We also have our own nutrition software called NutriSystem, which helps to properly calculate a meal’s nutritional values,” adds Rassamesangpetch. “With this software, we aim to develop more nutritious food, not just healthy food. This project will focus on the food preparing process, which will be proposed to Bangkok Air for implementation before bringing it to other airline customers.”

Healthy competition

With competition to secure airlines steadily increasing, heightened by the ongoing search by airlines for cost-saving solutions, BAC has found that there are only a few ground handling services that airlines will negotiate with, and catering is one of these few. The most significant change says Rassamesangpetch, involves raw materials. “In previous years, lamb was popular, but now you see more requests for chicken and fish,” he explains. “We have also moved from premium beef to local beef due to current demand, which is difficult to source in Thailand, but it is our duty and philosophy to work closely with clients to meet their requirements and develop our cooking method to make the best dishes from cost-level materials.”

With that said, Rassamesangpetch says there are still many airlines looking for quality catering at reasonable prices, a need BAC is confident it can meet. Having been successful at diversifying its business over the past decade, with three airline catering units, two restaurants, a patient catering unit in a top hospital and a food plant, Rassamesangpetch says one aspect of the business that remains top priority is its employees. “We offer an excellent benefits plan for all employees and their families. We continue to provide proper training to ensure the quality of the product is maintained, and that the employees making said products are confident in their abilities,” he adds. Looking ahead, Rassamesangpetch says BAC will continue to work toward maintaining three top qualities: its facility, its products and its services. Doing so has allowed the caterer to achieve Good Manufacturing Practice (GMP) and Hazard Analysis Critical Control Points (HACCP) certificates. In terms of expansion, BAC is considering another business opportunity at Chiang Mai Airport, as well as in China, which will see the company’s employee base grow substantially. Rassamesangpetch says BAC is also planning to develop more new products next year under the Gourmet Primo name, with the company’s research and development team already busy working on developing a variety of products to cope with the varied — and demanding — needs of its customers. When it first began operations in 2005, BAC produced food for Bangkok Airways and made deliveries to Asia’s oldest airport, Don Muang International Airport in Bangkok


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A philosophical

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A red meat dish served on board Etihad Airways


stablished by Royal (Amiri) Decree in July 2003 and commencing operations in November of the same year, Etihad Airways — the National Airline of the United Arab Emirates — has developed into one of the fastest growing airlines in the history of commercial aviation today. Etihad Airways’ codeshares give the Abu Dhabi-based airline a combined passenger and cargo network of nearly 600 destinations and more than 25,200 flights per week, more than any other Middle Eastern airline. In addition, Etihad currently has 197 interline relationships and 51 codeshare partnerships. Just last month, Etihad Airways won awards for Best First Class and Best LongHaul Airline Middle-East and Africa in the 2017 Airline Excellence Awards. The airline was also named in the


By presenting new offerings, menus and catering concepts on a continual basis, Etihad Airways has managed to offer an inflight meal service that is as varied and creative as the needs of its passengers

global top ten. The 2017 AirlineRatings. com awards happened just weeks after the UAE flag carrier received a Skytrax Certified 5-Star Airline Rating. This followed Skytrax awards for the World’s Best First Class Airline, World’s Best First Class Onboard Catering, and World’s Best First Class Airline Seat for its A380 First Apartment in July of this year. On the catering front, Etihad Airways’ catering arm currently has 235 inflight chefs, 495 Food and Beverage managers in service and a catering department that is responsible for the concept, design, planning and the consistently safe and on-time delivery of all catering activities. With the exception of its home base in Abu Dhabi, where Etihad Airways receives its actual day-to-day catering uplift from its own catering company Etihad Airport Services Balik Salmon prepared by Etihad Airways


Catering (EASC), onboard catering is provided exclusively by various third party providers worldwide. Caterers are selected through an extensive tender process which outlines in detail all Etihad Airways requirements, ensuring that all food provided must be strictly halal. “A key part of the tender process is looking at food safety, good manufacturing practice and the halal processes and procedures of each participant,” explains Mark Harrison, Head of Guest Experience Catering for Etihad Airways. “This is analyzed and documented following an extensive catering audit.” Finally, a menu presentation is conducted to review and assess the culinary capabilities of each caterer. A selection panel then decides which caterer has won the Etihad Airways catering contract using the following key selection criteria: capacity of catering facility; location from airport terminal; ability to support halal requirements; price; culinary capabilities; food safety and halal audit results. Etihad Airways works on new offerings and concepts on a continuous basis. “Through workshops and seminars, we gather the inflight chefs and F&B managers’ ideas to develop them into working hospitality projects that best suit the airline environment,” explains Harrison. “As an example, for the Taste of the World event in Abu Dhabi last month, we paired together the inflight chefs with worldrenowned chefs to cook different dishes in a friendly competition.”

ETIHAD AIRWAYS Chef André Gerrits wins ‘taste the world’ with Etihad Airways at Taste of Abu Dhabi

Chef André Gerrits with the ‘Taste the World’ trophy

Michelin Star Chef André Gerrits of Dutch farm restaurant ‘t Amsterdammertje was presented with the ‘Taste the World’ trophy at this year’s Taste of Abu Dhabi. Gerrits also went home with two Etihad Airways First Class tickets to a destination of his choice on the airline’s network. Gerrits will also be featured in the airline’s Etihad Inflight magazine and will have the opportunity to host a cooking demonstration at his next local Taste Festival. All 10 finalists were presented with a specially engraved Dallah (traditional Arabic coffee pot). Ten renowned chefs took part in the event, competing over three days in cook-offs and cooking demonstrations to reveal who among them best characterizes Etihad Airways’ food philosophy. Finalists were selected at local Taste Festivals held during 2016, and include: Pascal Aussignac (Club Gascon, London), André Gerrits (‘t Amsterdammertje, Amsterdam), Michael Hunter (Antler Restaurant, Toronto), Andrea Provenzani (Il Liberty, Milan), Vitaly Tikhonov (G.Graf, Moscow), Siu Hin Chi (Duddell’s, Hong Kong), Scott Bridger (Bib & Tucker and May Street Larder, Perth), Sylvestre Wahid (Restaurant Sylvestre, Paris), Francesco Apreda (Imàgo, Rome) and Nelly Robertson (nel., Sydney). The three-year partnership between Etihad Airways and Taste Festivals is a core element of the airline’s sponsorship strategy, as it establishes itself as an aspirational lifestyle brand. The airline’s association with Taste Festivals began in March 2016 with events in Dubai, Sydney and Hong Kong, culminating with Taste of Abu Dhabi.

Harrison says menus are changed every three months worldwide and are created using seasonal produce, which is at its freshest during this time. “We ensure we pair locally as seasons vary by hemisphere,” he adds. “Menus follow our food philosophy which was updated in March 2016 and is matched to route, flight time and guest profile.”

New routes, new tastes

Etihad Airways recently launched direct services from Abu Dhabi to Venice, and has introduced menus with Italian-influenced dishes to complement the new route. “We are working closely with the local chefs to ensure the produce and dishes on the menu are in season and are authentic to the city Etihad Airways’ Fois Gras offers passengers a taste of luxury during their journey

we operate to and from,” says Harrison. In addition to new dishes, Etihad Airways has found itself tending to new passenger needs, which Harrison says have changed significantly over the past few years, becoming noticeably more discerning than before. “Our guests are looking for high quality and requirements vary considerably from indulgent dishes, comfort food, smaller portions, natural flavors and healthy options, as well as express dining and smart packaging.” The influx of various dietary restrictions and preferences today, from gluten free and vegetarian, to vegan and non-GMO, has only rendered the needs of passengers more complex. In response, Etihad offers an extensive selection in line with IATA requirements to meet these specific dietary needs without compromising quality. “As part of our food philosophy, all special dishes designed and cooked must reflect the same principles and cooking requirements as any other meal,” says Harrison. Although dealing with such needs are not without challenges, Etihad Airways is able to navigate obstacles by ensuring its principles and cooking requirements are upheld and the quality of each dish is maintained.

“We strive to deliver a consistently high-quality inflight catering product, at every airport where catering is uplifted,” says Harrison. “In order to achieve this, we work closely with our catering providers around the world to design dishes which are appropriate to Etihad Airways’ vision and food philosophy, ensuring that the caterers deliver the same product or dish with the same superior quality and consistently.” This system is perhaps one of the many attributes that distinguishes Etihad Airways from other airlines, both within the Middle East region and internationally. “Each class of service has its own identity and all are aligned to our brand propositions,” Harrison explains. “The offering complements current trends, as well as setting new trends. Our design is benchmarked against the best restaurants in the world.” And if an airline has the ability to successfully elevate its inflight dining experience to that of a five-star restaurant on the ground, it is more likely that the culinary needs of its passengers — however varied and complex — are being routinely and aptly met.  |  PAX INTERNATIONAL  |  25


Serving up a treat

Qatar Aircraft Catering Company, the catering arm of Qatar Airways, has come a long way since the opening of its new headquarters at Hamad International Airport in 2014. Mary Jane Pittilla reports


Yellow tail with Teriyaki from the QACC menu

Black cod with lemon


atar Aircraft Catering Company (QACC) has been pushing the boundaries of inflight cuisine to reflect the airline’s five-star ambitions. The opening of Hamad International Airport (HIA) in April 2014 marked a significant new chapter in QACC’s rapid expansion. The massive state-of-the-art catering facility at HIA has redefined the standards of airline catering excellence, according to the company. A robust and diverse team, QACC has more than 3,100 employees currently, and more than 450 trained in-house chefs. The company, has, for several years maintained a relationship with Nobu Matsuhisa, the Japanese-born celebrity Master Chef and restaurateur known for his fusion cuisine blending traditional Japanese dishes with Peruvian ingredients. “Our partnership with Master Chef Nobu Matsuhisa is very important to us as it is a very visible manifestation of the importance we place on our food and the importance we place on the need for creativity and flavor on the plate for our customers,” says QACC. Qatar Airways also works with several other renowned chefs and is always looking for new relationships which will be meaningful to our customers and its food onboard, it says, adding: “We have many exciting things being planned.” Many of the airline’s routes feature regional choices, depending on consumer tastes. “We work closely with the chefs at our chosen caterers to develop menus


which will work well onboard and which will be well liked by our customers.” One recent example of a special menu includes Diwali treats served onboard flights to and from India, to celebrate the Festival of Lights with its passengers. The carrier is also preparing a Thanksgiving menu for its U.S. flights on November 24, and a special treat for all passengers to celebrate Qatar’s National Day in December. The menus change on some routes weekly and on others monthly or quarterly, and in some cases the meals rotate within the same menu to provide yet more variety. “We carefully review the popular choices of our passengers and offer a selection of most loved dishes and cuisine preferences,” says QACC. What’s also evident is how important the catering service is to the airline company. “Hospitality as a whole is very important to us as it is a major part of our Arabic heritage which we are very proud of. We are constantly looking to raise the

bar in the onboard dining experience in each of our classes.” Regarding the outlook for QACC in the coming year, the catering arm is also optimistic. “We have no doubt that the unit will continue to grow and develop as the airline does. Our catering unit has undergone major expansion – with investments in new equipment, greater staff and new suppliers around the globe.” And there’s much more to come. “There are so many plans it would be inappropriate to pick any one of them out for special treatment,” says QACC. “We regularly have new developments in our catering offering – in particular as new destinations are introduced to our route map, as well as adding more capacity on existing routes.”

The story of QACC

Launched in August 2002 as the sole airline catering company at Doha International Airport (DIA), QACC was formed to provide exclusive catering services to Qatar

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QATAR AIRCRAFT CATERING COMPANY Airways and other airlines operating from DIA. The opening of Hamad International Airport (HIA) in April 2014 heralded massive expansion. As one of the world’s largest airline catering facilities in the world, the unit at HIA spans 69,000 square meters, making it one of the world’s largest self-contained facilities. Located within the airport premises, it produces upwards of 140,000 meals per day. The enhanced meal production capacity enables the facility to cater for every airline flying via HIA. The facility also provides catering for all 16 lounges, as well as all airport employees. QACC has the capacity for 150,000 meals per day, of which 130,000 inflight meals per day are delivered to aircraft and 20,000 meals per day to lounges and the Marche voucher restaurant at the passenger terminal. The facility boasts a number of automated operations, with an automatic cart transport system, automatic bin conveyor system, and automatic storage and retrieval. There is production capability for off-airport venues with direct airside loading, consisting of 46 loading bays and 22 off-loading bays. A fleet of 100 vehicles is available for fast and efficient services. In addition, there are separate kitchens for food preparation according to various cultural requirements, together with freezing and chill rooms, laundry, dishwashing and equipment cleaning facilities, an air shower corridor for food handlers to decontaminate, and a vacuum system for waste disposal.

The women’s kits can easily be used as makeup or jewelry bag

The new men’s kit on Qatar Airways features Armani products in stylish black

Qatar Airways airs new First Class Amenity Kits Qatar Airways, in partnership with Giorgio Armani, has launched its newly designed range of Giorgio Armani Fragrances and Beauty amenity kits, available to First Class passengers on select A380 flights. Designed exclusively for Qatar Airways, the First Class amenity kits are will be distributed onboard in black, the signature color of Giorgio Armani, and feature gold accents reflecting the Italian designer’s Fall-Winter 2016-2017 collection. Women will receive a Giorgio Armani fragrances and a beauty amenity kit that doubles up as makeup or jewelry bag post-flight, while men will get a travel bag made with a ribbed fabric. Whether traveling for business or leisure, passengers will find the amenity kits meet both their inflight and post-flight needs, the carrier said. Qatar Airways Group Chief Executive, His Excellency, Akbar Al Baker, said: “Giorgio Armani has an illustrious history of providing the discerning passengers with an unrivaled level of style, comfort and luxury and it is this brand synergy that is also synonymous with Qatar Airways. When we go places together with our passengers they receive the highest levels of luxury, sophistication and comfort and I’m pleased to be able to provide our customer with refreshed Giorgio 28  |  PAX INTERNATIONAL  |  DECEMBER 2016

Armani Fragrances and Beauty amenity kits designed exclusively for our Qatar Airways’ First Class passengers.” The newly designed kits seek to provide the luxury products desired by Qatar Airways’ premium customers. The First Class Ladies Giorgio Armani Fragrances and Beauty amenity kit includes SÍ Lotion (75ml), SÍ eau de toilette (75ml), Giorgio Armani Perfection Eye Makeup Remover (40ml), and Giorgio Armani Crema Nera Extrema (20ml). The First Class male amenity kits feature Armani Eau Pour Homme Shampoo (75ml), Armani Eau Pour Homme eau de toilette (20ml), Armani Men Master Lotion (40ml) and Armani Men Perfect Master Serum (5ml). Both amenity kits include a comfort bag consisting of lip balm, socks, eyeshades and earplugs, while the women’s kit also includes a hairbrush. The new range of Giorgio Armani Fragrances and Beauty amenity kits are available exclusively on overnight services on all First Class long-haul and ultra-long-haul flights on the airline’s Airbus A380. Qatar Airways’ A380 operates on select services to Paris, London, Bangkok, Guangzhou in China, and now on the daily A380 service to Sydney.



Ahead New routes and an impressive order of Boeing and Airbus aircraft has Gulf Air poised for a “new era” in 2017 and beyond

Gulf Air has 30 onboard chefs on staff for premium cabin work


ith the start of the new year, Gulf Air will be expanding its route network past 40 cities and eyeing the year 2018 when the first deliveries will take place for a massive order of Boeing and Airbus aircraft for long- and short-haul routes. In addition, work continues on a new terminal at Bahrain International Airport that will push capacity to more than 14 million passengers by the time it is completed in 2020. The improvements in airport infrastructure, combined with an extensive fleet modernization program, turn the Bahrain-based carrier toward a future of even competition in a region with some of the most service-oriented airlines in the world. Bahrain International Airport handled a total of 8.5 million passengers in 2015. Passengers arriving and departing through immigration at the airport increased by 11%. There was an overall increase of 6% in the total passenger movement over 2014. Gulf Air carried 5,345,446 passengers in 2015 with a growth of 2% from the previous year, which represents 62% of total traffic through the airport. While the expansion has been long awaited, some things clearly will stay the same for the airline – specifically the pioneering spirit that led Gulf Air to spearhead important and groundbreaking components of inflight service, from onboard chefs preparing tailored meals, to nannies seeing to the needs of traveling families both in the air and on the ground. The year 2017 will start off with Gulf Air returning to Sri Lanka with five weekly flights to Colombo.


“We are pleased to re-connect Bahrain and Colombo, meeting the demands of our customers across the globe and tapping into the significant commercial opportunity that exists from business and leisure travelers from both countries and, of course, facilitating connections for travelers across our network,” said Chief Executive Officer, Maher Salman Al Musallam, in the November 13 announcement of the new route. “This is a promising development, which we believe will start 2017 on the right note, building momentum for Gulf Air’s further development over the course of the next year.” The announcement of the new service to Sri Lanka comes on the heels of news of an increase in Gulf Air’s direct Sialkot service (in the Punjab region of Pakistan) from two to four weekly flights starting from December 1 to meet high passenger demand. Passenger demand is growing in other places within the airline’s system. In October, Gulf Air announced an increase of its flights to and from the Saudi capital

city of Riyadh from 32 to 35 weekly flights, which started October 30. The airline now operates five daily flights to Riyadh.

Nannies and Chefs

Gulf Air was the first airline in the Middle East to bring aboard inflight chefs that specialize in European and Middle Eastern cuisine - prepared to order. Gulf Air currently has a staff of more than 30 Sky Chefs giving specialized service to premium passengers. The in-flight services department is also improving the current food service product across the Gulf Air network and plans to implement new menus for all flights departing BAH in the upcoming year. “We have already introduced new menus on our Bangkok-Bahrain, ParisBahrain and Frankfurt-Bahrain sectors in 2016. Also, we have new menus on route Istanbul-Bahrain starting January 1, 2017. The focus on all the menus has been an emphasis on regional cuisine and the use of fresh ingredients,” said Mohamad

With new aircraft purchases planned for first delivery next year, Gulf Air will have one of the newest fleets in the Middle East  |  PAX INTERNATIONAL  |  29

GULF AIR El Assaad, Senior Manager Inflight and Product at Gulf Air. Gulf Air can also lay claim to the first SkyNanny. The nannies are a free service that provides specialized attention, delivering dedicated childcare service from checkin at the Gulf Air Falcon Gold lounges, to on board the flight until the passengers reach their final destination. Gulf Air Falcon Gold Lounges can be found at Bahrain International Airport, In addition to inflight service, Sky Nannies are assigned to families in the Falcon lounges

Dubai International Airport and Heathrow Terminal 4. Passengers can make use of a full-service business, dining, lounging facilities and television areas. The airline has also added a “Quiet Lounge” in their lounges, which boast private sleeping rooms with beds, dimming lights and a ‘do not disturb’ option. Passengers can stay connected with free Wi-Fi throughout the lounges, charge their electronic devices via discreet power sockets at every seat and utilize a business center that includes PCs, fax machines and printers. For families, the lounge offers a spacious family room with Gulf Air’s SkyNannies in attendance, as well as a gaming room equipped with Xbox and PlayStation units.

A tall order

This year also began with promise, as Gulf Air announced in January 2016


a US$7.6 billion order for 16 Boeing 787-9 Dreamliners, 17 Airbus A321neo and 12 Airbus A320neo aircraft with first deliveries set for the second quarter of 2018. Once the order is completed, Gulf Air will be able to lay claim to one of the youngest fleets in the region. By mid-summer the airline began firming up its plans for the Dreamliners, announcing at the Farnborough Air Show that it has selected B/E Aerospace to supply Business Class seating for the aircraft. Also at Farnborough, the airline announced it would be outfitting the 787s with the AVANT inflight entertainment system from Thales and added a contract for Trent 1000 engines from Rolls Royce. “We are enhancing the entire spectrum of Gulf Air’s onboard product offering and, with this key partnership we are confident that the passenger experience will be elevated — meeting the needs and requirements of travelers moving across the Gulf Air network,” said Al Musallam at the announcement of the new B/E Aerospace contract.



Private jet operations at Al Bateen Airport operate round the clock

Executive Gourmet at Al Bateen Airport in Abu Dhabi has grown from a small operation to a round-the-clock producer of high-quality cuisine for the most discerning passengers in the UAE


t was four years ago, that the first employees and equipment began filtering in to the Executive Gourmet business jetcatering unit at Al Bateen Airport in the UAE capital of Abu Dhabi. Now, as the airport has grown in infrastructure and customers, the Gate Gourmet affiliate remains the largest and only stand-alone unit in the company’s operations devoted solely to executive jet catering. Despite economic hits, political instability in several nations and a dropping price of oil, the business aviation market in the Middle East is again seeing growth. While representing 3% of the world market for business jets, the market research firm Research and Markets projected in April of this year that the region’s business jet market will grow an average of 3.8% per year over the next 20 years. Saudi Arabia has the largest fleet of business jets at 188 aircraft, according the


report released last spring from Research and Markets. It is followed by Turkey at 157 and the United Arab Emirates at 135. In the future, Iran was one of the nations mentioned that is poised to add to its total business aircraft. For Gate Gourmet, the facility was two years in the making before it opened in 2012 and gave the company the chance to show off some of its abilities to cater to the growing business jet market. Tableware products from DeSter and comfort items from Harmony were joined by the trappings for high-end business travel from flower arrangements, concierge services, laundry and international media. There Hamour leek fondue fresh from the Executive Gourmet kitchen

was even the need to create an elaborately presented McDonald’s cheeseburger, which was an eccentric favorite of one of the region’s monarchs. Less than an hour’s drive from Dubai, a mere 15-minute jaunt to the Yas Island Formula One race track, and five minutes from the Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Center, the 770-square-meter kitchen, hums with activity 24 hours a day supplying meals to a customer base that is a who’s who of executive business travel in the Middle East. More than 30 customers are catered directly either at Al Bateen or the other main airports in the UAE. The company is kept busy with the demands of a growing airport that is the only exclusive business aviation operation in the Middle East and North Africa. In 2015, Al Bateen Airport (a former military facility) welcomed 2,703 aircraft and 43,278 passengers to its VIP and Sheikh Zayed Terminals. “The steady influx of passengers at Al Bateen Executive Airport is a testament to its world-class services, top-quality facilities and strategic location as the region’s only airport tailor-made for the business aviation industry,” said Eng. Ahmad Al Haddabi, Chief Operations Officer at Abu Dhabi Airports, in the announcement of the airport’s year-end figures. Gate Gourmet has taken to the executive jet catering market, opening units at 10 major airports around the world; however, Joao Aguiar, General Manager and Project Manager Operations Middle East at Executive Gourmet said Executive Gourmet is still the largest and only unit dedicated exclusively to private aviation in the company’s operations. “We also work with some major topclass restaurants in the area,” he added.

EXECUTIVE JET CATERING “Where our executive chef worked along with their chefs to ensure they prepare their signature dishes in the right way to be served in the right way and be reheated onboard.” Executive Chef for the kitchen is Thomas Harker, who has created menus for the HRH Queen Elizabeth and Prince Phillip for royal flights from the United Kingdom. A glance through menu offerings reveals the chef and his staff ’s capabilities are a showcase of European, Asian and Arabic flavors available for service on 24 hours notice. High-end products from the Russian Caviar House are also available. Al Bateen Airport handles between 12 and 15 flights per day, said Aguiar. But the unit’s capabilities extend beyond its home airport. In a given day, it may be called on to provide meals for between 100 and 150 passengers at airports throughout the UAE. Aguiar said airports in Dubai account for approximately 30% of Executive Gourmet’s business. Abu Dhabi is the home to Royal Jet, Falcon and Al Jaber, all dedicated to VVIP and private aviation. The two latter companies are based in Al Bateen while Royal

Jet is headquartered at nearby Abu Dhabi International Airport. Falcon Aviation Services is the most recent addition to Al Bateen, starting service at the airport in the fall of 2015. From the beginning, Falcon Aviation Services was established to support the region’s oil industry. On a daily basis, Falcon’s Dash 8, Q400s take off from Al Bateen bound for Das and Zirku Islands and its oil fields.

Executive Gourmet jet catering is available at nine other airports in the Gate Gourmet system: Dublin, Geneva, Tokyo Haneda and Narita, Hong Kong, Rio de Janeiro, Shanghai, Sydney and Zurich. Gate Gourmet has streamlined the process allowing ordering, viewing and downloading from the gategroup website, with individual menus from each of the company’s participating catering units.

Chicken rulade with leek is one of the dishes available on the Executive Gourmet menu

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COMPANY PROFILE This year’s harvest of Wonderful pistachios was expected to top 800 million pounds



RETAIL The Wonderful Company’s line of pistachio snack products are making inroads among duty free operators, as the company works to improve the lives of its employees by RICK LUNDSTROM


t this year’s Tax Free World Association event in Cannes, the Wonderful Company sought to make its mark among massive rooms filled with stands by engaging a group of visitors — known to be on the move much of the year — with a bit of high-tech marketing befitting the company’s unique approach and product mix. Visitors had the chance to win one of two US$600 Bluesmart roll-aboard suitcases by accepting a digitally sent invitation that was scanned and validated at the company’s stand in the Blue Village. They were then kept abreast of happenings throughout the massive event with the help of an app. To pull off the bit of hightech marketing and outreach, the company made use of Mighty Media Group, a “digital, mobile and proximity marketing bespoke solution” that is part and parcel of an even larger marketing effort that is bringing the Wonderful Company’s product to everyday consumers. Wonderful Company is spending millions on its marketing efforts to make a prominent place for pistachios in the snack food industry, hiring well-known celebrities and purchasing expensive advertising airtime, including the 2014 Super Bowl football game. Behind the scenes, the company’s community involvement in California’s Central Valley is improving the lives of its thousands of employees. Sister publication Gulf-Africa Duty Free and Travel Retailing visited the Wonderful Company’s pistachio orchards and production facilities 150 miles north of


Los Angeles in mid-September, when the first of what would become a harvest of more than 800 million pounds of nuts were shaken from the short, sturdy trees on the company’s 189,000 acres of pistachios and almonds.

Making room in duty free

The Cannes giveaway was part of the company’s efforts to reach out in a larger way to the duty free and travel retail channel that it entered four years ago. It has already resulted in some key customers. “Our existing partners are seeing great growth and we have some promising new locations recently brought on which include Heinemann in Kuala Lumpur, several Carnival Cruise ships out of Miami as well as Sydney International Airport,” said James Kfouri, Director of Sales Australia,

Southeast Asia and Global Travel Retail, in the September’s announcement of the company’s promotion at TFWA. “Global travel retail sales have seen double-digit growth consistently over the last three years and we are excited to see where this year’s crop will take us next.” Eight ships in the Carnival fleet are stocking Wonderful Pistachios. The products are also now sold at Golden Duty Free shops in Asuncion Airport in Paraguay. The company’s first steps into duty free and travel retail began in 2012. By then, Wonderful Pistachios had established its position in the domestic market and expanded its distribution to more than 30 countries. Kfouri said the snack product is a perfect fit for travel retail buyers that wish to expand and diversify skus in the category.

Sydney Airport is one of the places where Wonderful pistachios can be found for sale in duty free


After roasting, workers inspect the finished product before packaging

“Currently travel retail snack choices are pretty much restricted to chocolate, crisps and sweet-based products,” he said. “Wonderful Pistachios give consumers a healthier option for a satisfying, tasty snack — one that is perfect for snacking solo and for sharing on the go.” The road to the company’s pistachio orchards runs north of Los Angeles through dry, rolling hills east of Bakersfield in an area dotted with small towns and fields filled with oil drilling equipment. Visitors in September were fortunate to catch a mild spell at a time of year when


temperatures routinely climb into the high 90s to 100 Fahrenheit. A combination of dry, hot weather and cool evenings are needed for a successful harvest. Even though days are sweltering in the Central Valley, the weather still provides the necessary 1,000 hours of temperatures below 45 degrees Fahrenheit that are needed for a harvest as successful as the one the company predicted for 2016. With the trees planted in tight rows, two pieces of harvesting equipment are used. The first piece grips the tree by the trunk and shakes the pistachio nuts onto a another vehicle that collects them and transports them to a conveyor truck that dumps the harvest into a vehicle bound for one of five plants with a combined area of 4 million square feet devoted to processing.

Reshaping the Valley

The privately owned Wonderful Company relies on local labor for the seasonal harvest. Nowhere in the Central Valley is the company’s presence felt more than in the community of Lost Hills. Over the past several years, the company’s Vice Chair and Co-owner Lynda Resnick has launched a

widespread effort to improve the lives of employees and the town. The Wonderful Company is investing more than $15 million in local infrastructure, adding a community center, park and affordable housing development. Roads have been paved and streetlights, bus shelters and drainage systems have been installed. The company’s Wonderful Wellness Centers in Lost Hills and Delano offer medical screening and guidance for 12,000 San Joaquin Valley employees and their families, their education program reaches 55,000 students across 24 school districts in the Central Valley. Students can also embark on a career in agriculture with the company’s career preparation programs. Pistachios and almonds are part of a mix of several products that make up The Wonderful Company’s portfolio. The company also has Halos mandarin oranges and Scarlett’s Texas red grapefruit. Beverage products are Fiji water and POM pomegranate juice. The Wonderful Company also owns two California wineries: Landmark Vineyards and Justin. Finally, The Wonderful Company owns the Teleflora flower delivery service.

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Calvetti Culinary Creations Chefs at work

After more than 40 years in the meat processing and distribution industry, Chicago-based James Calvetti Meats is showing no signs of slowing down, with exclusive offerings and more developments on the way


he city of Chicago has long been associated with the commercial meat industry and more importantly, its transformation. The opening of the Union Stockyards, Chicago’s meatpacking district in 1865 — originally swampland, which was transformed into a centralized processing area — helped to position Chicago as the epicenter of the meat-packing industry in America, with allegedly more meat being processed in the city than in any other place worldwide, from the Civil War until the 1920s. No stranger to its city’s history, Chicago-based James Calvetti Meats, a second generation family business, has been processing and distributing high-quality grain-fed meat for more than 40 years. The company’s ties to the Union Stockyards in Chicago go back to James Calvetti, after which the company is named, and his first job as a messenger boy for Swift and Company, a meat processing company located in the Yards in 1936. 38  |  PAX INTERNATIONAL  |  DECEMBER 2016

“He learned the meat trade ‘from the bottom up,’” says Jamie Calvetti, President of James Calvetti Meats and the son of James Calvetti. “My father moved within a few years to one of the premier beef ‘breaking’ and portion cut meat companies in Chicago where he learned his sales craft and just as importantly, learned about and how to sell portion-cut meat.” With his natural sales ability, Calvetti started selling to airline caterers at Midway Airport in 1949, which at the time, was the busiest airport in the world. It wasn’t long before his business started to grow, along with the industry. Fast-forward to today, and business is nothing less than booming. “So far, 2016 has been a great year,” says Calvetti. “We are now supplying real French-style sous-vide food to airline caterers on two continents for some of the largest and fastest growing airlines in the world, and have partnered with some of the best companies in our industry to create exciting synergies. That

said, we are never satisfied and still have a long way to go.” Behind the development of the company’s French-style sous-vide food is Calvetti Culinary Creations (CCC), the marketing arm of James Calvetti Meats, which specializes in the sales and development of custom, ready-to-eat sous-vide food products — made by following the traditional French method — as well as pre-seared, ready-to-cook foods for airline and hospitality catering. Developed in 2013, CCC was created in response to a growing demand for unique, high quality, ready-to-eat foods for First and Business Class service. “Custom designed, fully cooked and pasteurized — true French-style sous-vide products fit this need perfectly,” says Calvetti. “We are in the right place at the right time.”

Riding the waves

To be a part of the meat processing and distribution industry for 42 years does not come without its challenges. Calvetti recalls his father’s first major challenge — in the aircraft catering industry specifically — which involved the transition of passenger aircraft from turboprop aircraft, such as the Douglas DC 6’s and Lockheed Constellations, to passenger jet aircraft, such as 707s and Douglas DC 8s. “The lore is that industry people told my

JAMES CALVETTI MEATS A seared and grillmarked fully-cooked sous-vide Calvetti beef fillet, ready for boarding


father, ‘Calvetti, they’ll never have any time to serve food.’ Of course, the economy was growing, the business grew rapidly and he rode that wave successfully,” says Calvetti. The next major hurdle involved the introduction of frozen pre-made meals served in Y Class. “Previously, everything was made on the ground,” explains Calvetti. “My father overcame that challenge by selling to the frozen meal manufacturers directly and providing the same high-quality steaks and roast as before for First Class.” When Calvetti’s father started the company in 1974, the main challenge at the time was simply being a small new company in a very competitive industry. But as with the other challenges, this too was overcome. “Business moved along though, and grew fairly swiftly until the late 1990s, which were difficult financial times for the major U.S. domestic airlines,” explains Calvetti. “Then of course 9/11 hit and within 18 months, our air catering business was cut in half.” The 2007-08 economic collapse was yet another hurdle. More recently, the cultural change within the company from the ready-to-cook business to the readyto-eat business has been nothing short of a challenge, but one Calvetti is confident the company will overcome. And to what does Calvetti attribute this hardiness? His answer is quite simple: his family’s history and the subsequent wisdom that has been passed down. “It is our experience that has gotten us to where we are today.” tel : + 39 0758783001 e-mail :  |  PAX INTERNATIONAL  |  39


The ultimate in indulgence

The new amenity kit designs by Buzz for Etihad Airways feature vegan leather debossed with Christian Lacroix’s signature Paseo print, in two colors: plum for women and grey for men

Suppliers of amenity kits in the First Class cabin are looking to designer collaborations in their quest to create a luxury experience for passengers and high perceived value for their airline customers by MARY JANE PITTILLA


Inflight experience specialists Buzz are experts at designing and curating brand collaborations for the ultimate luxury amenity airline collections. Buzz has a proven track record of creating luxury brand collaborations, to provide synergy with brand attributes, passenger demographics and the airline’s inflight aesthetic. So what makes a First Class product? “The First Class airline cabin is the ultimate in travel indulgence, and passengers lucky enough to enjoy the journey expect the amenity kits to meet their refined expectations,” said Leonard Hamersfeld, Director at Buzz. “The luxury passenger demands retail quality and value, regularly refreshed and collectible items and aspirational appeal.” The company recently announced design news from Etihad Airways for both First Class and Business Class amenity kits. Etihad Airways First Class now features amenity kits by Christian Lacroix, for both male and female passengers. This is the first time the French designer has worked with an airline. The designs feature vegan leather debossed with Christian Lacroix’s signature Paseo print, in two rich colors: plum for women and grey for men. The Paseo design, inspired by the intricate embroidery of a torero’s cape, is reminiscent of Mediterranean influences. This pattern echoes the remarkable embroidery of the bullfighter’s cape. A second phase will also see new kits in burgundy for women and black for men. 40  |  PAX INTERNATIONAL  |  DECEMBER 2016

Calum Laming, Etihad Airways Vice President Guest Experience, said: “The new kits perfectly balance fashion and style to demonstrate Etihad Airways’ continuous commitment to First Class travel, and to providing unparalleled experiences at every phase of our guest’s journey with us.” Nicolas Topiol, Chief Executive Officer of Christian Lacroix, said: “We are very proud to be partnering with Etihad Airways for its First Class amenity bags. Etihad Airways’ position as a leading global airline is a wonderful complement to the House of Christian Lacroix.” The new bags will initially be introduced on the airline’s Airbus A380 flights between Abu Dhabi and London, New York, Sydney, Melbourne and Mumbai, and then fleetwide in early 2017. For Business Class kits, the LUXE City Guides have been refreshed with six new designs and five new cities, inspired by key destinations on the airline’s extensive global network. They now include Abu Dhabi, New York, São Paulo, Rome, Melbourne and Bangkok. Buzz’s Hamersfeld explained the importance of the partnership with the go-to guides for savvy travelers: “This collaboration brings together two luxury brands and delivers Etihad Airways passengers a truly valued lifestyle gift for their journey. It is an exciting design-driven collaboration that integrates a luxury travel product and elevates the amenity offering beyond the essentials.” Etihad’s Laming said the collabora-

tion enabled the airline to deliver kits that reflect the global nature of its business, while providing intelligent design, functionality and attractive and re-usable amenities for its guests. Simon Westcott, LUXE City Guides Chief Executive Officer, added that the premium experience was designed to extend long after Etihad’s guests have landed. “It is great to be working with fellow innovators,” he said. Meanwhile, German carrier Lufthansa has unveiled new amenity kits for Business Class passengers featuring coveted luxury brand Jil Sander Navy. Curated by Buzz, Lufthansa has partnered with Jil Sander to provide a premium inflight experience for Business Class passengers. Buzz designed and developed the amenity kits in collaboration with the German designer brand, focusing on aesthetics and functionality. The Jil Sander Navy branded amenity kits will be available for Business Class passengers on inbound and outbound flights from Germany. There are two striking colorways: bright blue/navy and bright blue/grey combinations. In addition, Lufthansa will be introducing the Jil Sander amenity kits for First Class early next year. The team at Jil Sander said: “We are pleased to provide passengers with a luxury experience onboard combining exclusive design and functionality.” In addition, Buzz has created some beautifully executed First Class gifts, col-

LUXURY REPORT Harmony has worked in partnership with Italian fashion house Ferragamo for Singapore Airlines’ premium passengers

laborating with a range of prestigious designers and brands. For Qantas, the company has teamed up with two beauty brands, SK-II and Payot; and for American Airlines, the upscale U.S. lifestyle brand Cole Haan was chosen.


Harmony, a member of gategroup, supplies First Class amenity kits exclusively to its most premium airline customers. They are designed in collaboration with renowned fashion, lifestyle, or designer brands and contain best-in-class skincare products. The company has worked in partnership with Bulgari for First Class kits onboard Emirates, and with Ferragamo for Singapore Airlines’ premium passengers. Airlines are often looking to differentiate their First from their Business Class, adding more value to the First Class experience. Therefore the company is often asked to come up with completely different approaches for the two products, resulting in two kits with different brand names, designs and contents. First Class passengers are often frequent travelers and expect to receive a variety of kits throughout the year. Therefore, the aim is to rotate as frequently as possible and have different products onboard at the same time. While Harmony does not see airline demand for First Class amenity kits increasing, it does see demand rising in new service classes such as Premium Economy. As for other trends in the First Class amenity kit category, the firm observes a tendency towards a more gift-oriented approach in First Class. “Airlines are looking for new ways to make their First Class passengers feel appreciated — a traditional amenity kit doesn’t always have to be the answer,” the company says.

WESSCO International

First Class amenity kits are all about providing luxury for passengers on a long-haul 42  |  PAX INTERNATIONAL  |  DECEMBER 2016

journey. WESSCO International has created award-winning and innovative First Class kits for clients, including American Airlines, with the introduction of the first iPad neoprene case in partnership with the Eames Foundation to feature mid-century modern “dot pattern” designs. The company also supported Etihad Airways with First Class bags featuring Sougha designs celebrating local Emirati craftsmanship. And for China Eastern Airlines, WESSCO International partnered with Italian fashion house Salvatore Ferragamo to offer a stylish First Class kit with the brand’s exclusive skincare items. For any First Class offering, WESSCO International works very closely with the airlines. “A First Class amenity kit needs to match the airline’s brand affinity in terms of brand identity and corporate culture,” says Nick Bregman, Chief Operating Officer, WESSCO International. “What WESSCO International does is deliver customized solutions for an amenity kit which is truly First Class. To do so we study the company’s heritage, imagery, and overall passenger experience to match and enhance it with exclusive luxury item partnerships highlighted through our own unique design process.” WESSCO International will soon be placing an Indonesian heritage-inspired Garuda Indonesia First Class kit onboard its flights from December this year, which WESSCO International will soon be placing an Indonesian heritage-inspired Garuda Indonesia First Class kit onboard from December, which comes with Hermès Eau d’Orange Verte perfumed body lotion and soothing face balm

comes with Hermès Eau d’Orange Verte perfumed body lotion and soothing face balm. The kit’s pouch was designed by WESSCO International based on Indonesian heritage motifs and the Garuda Indonesia First Class experience. Compared to the Business Class kit, the First Class cosmetic products are more exclusive and premium, Bregman says. First Class kits often change in conjunction with the introduction of Business Class kits, or about every two to three years. There are of course exceptions. WESSCO International created a Heritage collection in 2015, featuring nine limitededition versions of Heritage amenity kits celebrating the legacy of the nine airlines that are part of the history of American Airlines. These kits were placed onboard American Airlines international Business Class and transcontinental First Class. The need for airlines to stand out is having an impact on the amenity kit category, believes Bregman. “Brand loyalty is not as strong as it used to be in the previous decade. Airlines operate in an increasingly competitive marketplace in which their existing and potential customers have access to social media and other platforms which they use to select and rate their options. This leads to a demand for new ideas in order to stand out. First Class luxury is always about premium quality, variety, customization, and striking the right balance between timeless classic textures and products, and emerging trends.” Bregman also notes a surge in demand for innovative design and novel offerings. “Airlines are looking for beautiful and functional luxury items to pleasantly surprise their First Class passengers. That could mean multi-use, collectible, reusable, or culturally significant items and artifacts. Not so much a trend yet, but what you might call a future direction is augmented reality (AR) and how that may add to the First Class onboard experience.”



HOT!  Kosher Box – Bangkok Air Catering: The Kosher Box from Bangkok Air Catering features a kosher-certified meal made in BAC’s kosher kitchen. Part of the development process involved trying several different recipes to determine which could withstand freezing. Because BAC employs a technology that can freeze ingredients without causing crystallization inside the box, the texture of the food inside the Kosher Box will not become damaged once defrosted, whether it is fruit, chicken or meat.

 Crepe Raspberry-Mascarpone – Gut Springenheide: Leading manufacturer of egg related pre-cooked dishes for airline catering worldwide, Gut Springenheide is a family-owned company with years of experience in understanding what pleases both passengers and caterers alike. Gut Springenheide routinely produces new innovative dishes, such as the delicious Crepe RaspberryMascarpone — a light and fluffy creation made from fresh farm eggs and quality ingredients. Gut Springenheide’s full range includes Gourmet Filled Omelets, Frittatas, Egg-Pancakes, Egg Rolls, Tortillas and Scrambled Eggs, all fresh and made with care.

 Saudia First Class Amenity Kits – FORMIA: The new amenity kits for Saudia’s First Class Suite developed by FORMIA feature luxury brand FURLA for women and Porsche Design for men, together with premium cosmetic brands Acca Kappa and THANN. The Porsche Design pajamas in the First Class Suite come in gender-specific colors, with Apsara cosmetics in the accompanying relaxing kit. Different colored cases will be offered for passengers to collect throughout the year.

 Extra Virgin Olive Oil range – Group SOI: Now featuring fresh herbs and spices, Group SOI has extended its range of extra virgin olive oil. The new oils are packed under the “LIVE OIL” brand in square 15ml PET bottles hermetically sealed with a new metal security cap. The new range includes three new olive oils — Black Pepper, Cumin and Fennel —all produced in Italy from Italian olives. Vegan and GMO-free, the new olive oils are perfect for dressing up a meal from appetizers to salads.

 Air Astana Kids Kits – AK-Service: The new amenity kits developed by the group of companies AK-Service for children passengers on board Air Astana, cater to two age groups: age 3 to 6 and 7 to 12. Children aged 3 to 6 will receive a book-shaped bag designed under The Little Prince® license. The kits feature illustrations painted by The Little Prince® author Antoine de Saint-Exupéry and include an activity book, several games, a colorful scarf, warm socks and a do-it-yourself airplane model. Children aged 7 to 12 will receive a kit created by AKService in collaboration with National Geographic Kids featuring an activity book with facts about the earth, games and a toy compass. Children will also receive a neck warmer and a bright yellow-and-black wallet with Air Astana and National Geographic Kids logos.


WHAT’S HOT!  Ultra Light High Magnesium Porcelain – Global Inflight Products: The new Ultra Light High Magnesium Porcelain from Global Inflight Products offers many advantages when compared to traditional porcelain, including: Three to 10 times more durable, 50% thinner, 30-50% lighter and 22-25% more magnesium. The Ultra Light High Magnesium Porcelain is a beautiful choice to enhance the onboard dining service and elegantly showcase an inflight menu.

 Fruella Tetra Prisma 125ml Juice – Radnor Hills Mineral Water Company Ltd: With staying hydrated during air travel top of mind for many passengers, Radnor Hills is catering to this need by offering an array of products including natural mineral water, flavored waters, healthy children’s drinks and adult premium pressés, which are perfect for onboard consumption. New for 2016 is Fruella, a brand-new fruit juice range available in Tetra Prisma packs in an array of sizes, including a specifically designed 125ml carton to fit perfectly on trolleys used on board aircraft and trains.

 70% Dark Chocolate Tablets – FlyFit: Available in Europe, the U.S. and the Middle East, FlyFit’s new 70% dark chocolate tablets containing the finest pure chocolate are available in two varieties: 70% Dark Chocolate with Probiotic, which helps to fight fatigue and aids with smooth digestion; and 70% Dark Chocolate Infused with Pomegranate Flakes. Both varieties are offered in 7.5-gram tablets, an ideal size for trays, snack baskets or snack boxes. FlyFit’s 70% dark chocolate is packed with nutrients and boasts positive health effects. Made from the seed of the cocoa tree, 70% dark chocolate is one of the best sources of antioxidants.

 Noise Cancellation Earplugs – 4Inflight: New reusable silicone earplugs from 4Inflight offer a better noise reduction rate than polyurethane foam earplugs, and are suitable for an array of activities including: traveling, swimming, surfing, racing, bathing, sleeping and studying.

 Ambient Cakes – Snackboxtogo: Offering a six-month shelf life, the new Ambient Cakes from Snackboxtogo are ideal for airline service, as they produce less waste and are able to stay onboard the aircraft for a longer period of time. Single packed, the standard ambient cake has a weight of approximately 65 grams and is available in three different flavors: Vine Fruit, Double Chocolate Cranberry and Chocolate Marble. The ambient cakes can be packed in airline-branded boxes and private labels are available for smaller volumes. Ideal for buy-on-board menus, the ambient cakes can be produced in smaller portions. For complimentary service, Snackboxtogo can offer the cakes in smaller portions.  |  PAX INTERNATIONAL  |  45

WHAT’S HOT!  Etihad Airways Christian Lacroix First Class Amenity Kits – Buzz: Inflight experience specialists Buzz have created an exclusive brand partnership between renowned fashion design house Christian Lacroix and Etihad Airways for the new First Class amenity kits. The designs include vegan leather debossed with Christian Lacroix’s signature Paseo print. The Paseo design, inspired by the embroidery of a torero’s cape, is reminiscent of Mediterranean influences, a theme often present in Christian Lacroix Maison. Both the male and female embossed bags come in two rich colors — plum for ladies and grey for men. A second phase will see new kits in burgundy for ladies and black for men. The bags will initially be introduced on the airline’s A380 flights between Abu Dhabi and London, New York, Sydney, Melbourne and Mumbai, and then fleet-wide in early 2017.

 Peach n’ Cream – Bayart Innovations: Peach n’ Cream skincare offered by Bayart Innovations is designed to nourish skin with its unique combination of pure aloe vera extract and other ingredients. Developed to create an all-day glowing complexion, the creams are specially formulated for dry, damaged and sensitive skin. The texture is nourishing and non-greasy, ideal for all skin types. The presence of aloe vera contributes to the regeneration of the epidermis and deep moisturizing. In the age of customization, the color of Peach n’ Cream’s packaging can be coordinated with amenity kit colors and each scent can also be customized according to company needs.

Professional wash-up systems for Inflight Catering

Fly on the wings of perfection in terms of cleanliness, hygiene and safety.

Cleaned for take-off

Security and safety are the most important values an airline can offer today. A great number of checks are required before the captain and cabin crew of an aircraft are finally able to welcome the first passenger on board. This includes, making certain that travellers will receive a clean and hygienic service. With our warewashing systems for Inflight catering, we at MEIKO stand for a clean and perfect start. Whether you are city-hopping or launching for a long haul flight, MEIKO’s professional warewashing systems are guaranteed to reach the recommended level in purity, hygiene and cleanliness without comprise. This is the reason why you can find our technology everywhere around the globe where reliability, safety and efficiency count – from small business airports to large international traffic hubs. Discover the versatility of our tailor-made warewashing systems. Find out what we at MEIKO call the clean solution.




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Streaming to Singapore Three events, each with their own themes and dynamics, combined in the Lion City at the end of October with major while deals, some in the billions of dollars had attendees talking about the future of IFEC by RICK LUNDSTROM Singapore-based FTS Technologies represented in its home city with an announcement of a new Asian customer for its wireless IFE solution. Here, Ben Fuller and Darrel Chua of FTS pose at the company stand


fficials from the Airline Passenger Experience Association (APEX) tallied up the attendance in November for the group’s first overseas Expo outside North America in more than 10 years and assessed the advantages of adding two partners, one focused on the future of the passenger experience and another representing the interior products available to airlines now For three days, the Marina Bay Sands hotel, casino and resort complex in Singapore attracted more than 434 airline delegates from 77 airlines and 2,476 attendees. On the main floor was the delegation from APEX while just below, the Aircraft Interiors Expo welcomed companies. Throughout the three days, Future Travel Experience seminars and discussions kept visitors up to date on changes and trends in the industry. In the background and in the aisles of to the two-floor event was a showcase of products and services that will be shaping the future of inflight entertainment and connectivity. While the products were impressing visitors, news of a major acquisition that promises to reshape the cabin services industry for years to come was unfolding far back in the United States. News that Rockwell Collins had agreed to a US$7.6 billion purchase of B/E Aerospace caught many unaware. The transaction is a marriage of two major players,

Leo Mondale, Inmarsat President announces the go-live of GX Aviation during an evening reception hosted by Inmarsat on the rooftop of the Marina Bay Sands in Singapore


each with different specialties. The Cedar Rapids, Iowa based Rockwell Collins specializes in flight deck, cabin electronics, communications and other technology solutions. The company supplies the popular PAVES inflight entertainment system and Airshow moving map and other products. B/E Aerospace brings a range of cabin interior products including seating, food and beverage preparation and storage equipment, as well as modular galley and lavatory systems. “We see tremendous opportunity to serve our commercial aviation, business jet and military customers through broader offerings,” said Kelly Ortberg, Rockwell Collins’ President and Chief Executive Officer in the October 23 announcement of the purchase. While the news of the purchase rippled through the gathering in faraway Singapore, news was also taking place on trade floor. Here is a rundown of a few important happenings: Inmarsat’s next generation in-flight broadband service, GX for Aviation, went live during APEX in a ‘soft launch’ aboard a Lufthansa German Airlines aircraft. The achievement was unveiled during an evening reception organized by Inmarsat for airlines, partners and the media. GX for Aviation produces seamless high-speed global coverage provided through a single operator. Passengers can browse the Internet, stream videos, “with an onboard connectivity experience on par with broadband services available on the ground,” said and October release from the company. Lufthansa was slated to start commercial passenger services with GX for Aviation in November. Other customers for the solution include Singapore Airlines and Air Astana.

Panasonic Avionics Corporation took the opportunity in Singapore to announce the launch of its Captify inflight Marketing and advertising services. Captify allows airlines to use external partners and paying advertisers. The platform is composed of software tools and support allowing advertisers to reach 1.3 billion travelers a year. Captify enables airlines to target by seat class, route, device, language, and passenger data. With no changes to on-board media, it can increase or decrease ad loads, cap the frequency of marketing campaigns, and deliver detailed usage data in real-time. Panasonic also launched ZeroTouch brand service, which gives airlines realtime visibility into performance, improves the efficiency of its maintenance operations and also enables data transfer of passengerfacing content to an aircraft to improve the passenger experience. The company also announced several business deals with airline customers. Aeromexico will have 60 Boeing 737 MAX with Panasonics’ eX1 single aisle system. China Eastern Airlines also selected Panasonic’s eX3 inflight entertainment Wi-Fi connectivity service for its fleet of 35 new A350s and 787s. Finally, Air Tahiti Nui, selected Panasonic to equip its 787s with global connectivity with the company’s eXConnect system as well as its eX3 IFE system. Gogo and Phasor Solutions, a developer of, modular, electronically steerable antennas (ESAs), announced in Singapore a research and development partnership for application of their technology to the in-flight connectivity market. Phasor’s very low profile, electronically steerable antenna products are based on semiconductor fabrication techniques, and enable signal tracking with no moving parts. See more news from the APEX/FTE/ AIX event in PAX International’s News and Association News sections and on the PAX International website



PAX International Magazine and its talented team are completely focused on accurately covering all aspects of the passenger experience and providing a platform upon which industry players large and small can share news, developments and competencies with top airline, cruise and rail executives and decision-makers. Since 1997, PAX International’s bi-monthly print magazines and bi-weekly electronic newsletters have been serving executives onboard cuisine, sales, logistics, IFE, cabin connectivity, design, and passenger amenities with the latest and most trusted news and analysis in the world.

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APEX Awards innovation in Singapore


isitors to this year’s APEX Expo in October had the chance to see winners accept honors in a newly revamped APEX Awards at the sprawling Marina Bay Sands shopping, casino and hotel complex to kick off the start of the APEX/FTE/Aircraft Interiors Asia week in Singapore. Three finalists were selected in eight categories from a field of more than 100 entrants in an early evening ceremony October 24 capping a day of keynote addresses and educational sessions conducted by APEX. More than 4,000 delegates spent the week in Singapore as part of the three events October 25-27. Emcee for the evening’s lively awards ceremony was television and radio presenter and self-proclaimed aviation geek Dominic James Lau a former anchor for E! News Asia. APEX CEO Joe Leader also presented awards.

Award winners are as follows: Best Video Curation Best Original Video Best Original Audio Best Inflight Connectivity Innovation Best Passenger Comfort Innovation Best Personalization Innovation Best Cabin Innovation Best Inflight Entertainment Innovation

Air Canada enRoute Programming Etihad Airways Virtual Reality Film American Airlines Exclusive Content Finnair Nordic Sky Wi-Fi Singapore Airlines A350 Business Class Air New Zealand Airpoints STG Aerospace Green Floor Path Lighting Air New Zealand Innovations

Additional Awards Newcomer Award CEO Lifetime Achievement

SkyLights and IMMFly Goh Choon Phong, Singapore Airlines

Winners from nine categories pose for a group pictures at the close of the APEX Awards

APEX to team with TripIt to rate air travel


he Airline Passenger Experience Association announced at the group’s Expo in Singapore a partnership with TripIt® from Concur® that will help APEX launch its Official Airline Ratings™ program. “This innovative industry program will gather passenger feedback based on travel itineraries and will provide an audited third-party analysis of the insights gathered,” said a release from the Association. “APEX will then share the feedback with its member airlines and honor the highest-rated airlines each year.” APEX said it is designing the program to give the airline industry a new way to measure the quality of a passenger’s experience. By partnering with TripIt, it also gives travelers an opportunity to provide feedback that will help shape future in-flight experiences. “Mobile apps serve as the number one source of engagement during travel and after a flight. With a strong base of more than 13 million travelers worldwide, TripIt is a service that helps passengers keep their travel plans organized regardless of the airline they fly, making it the perfect partner to help us launch the Official Airline Ratings program,” said APEX CEO, Joe Leader. “APEX member airlines will be able to use the targeted, objective, and anonymous insights provided by the Official Airline Ratings to create an elevated personalized passenger experience.” Passengers who use the TripIt mobile app will have the opportunity to provide anonymous feedback on their flight. Using a five-star scale, passengers will be able to rate their overall flight


experience, along with five subcategories: seat comfort, cabin service, food and beverage, entertainment, and Wi-Fi. This feedback will be analyzed by a third-party auditing service and used as the basis for the airline’s Official Airline Ratings. APEX airline members will also receive exclusive access to the anonymous feedback provided by the airline’s passengers, which can be used to curate best practices and improve in-flight experiences for travelers. “By partnering with APEX to provide the airline industry with the information it needs to make meaningful decisions about the passenger experience, we’re also giving travelers a bigger say in those decisions,” said Jugdeep Bal, Concur’s senior director of business development for TripIt. The initial ratings period for the Official Airline Ratings will open in the coming weeks and will continue through July 2017. The airlines awarded four and five stars will be announced in September 2017 at APEX EXPO in Long Beach, California. APEX will also be elevating the Passenger Choice Awards by using insights derived from the passengers’ ratings of their inflight features to help determine the 2017 award winners. Airlines will be honored for outstanding performance in five categories: cabin service, seat comfort, food and beverage, entertainment, and Wi-Fi. Awards will also be presented to the best in region and the top airline in the world will be given the top award: Best in Passenger Experience.

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