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Airline passengers to get takeaways delivered onboard

A pilot scheme at Amsterdam’s Schiphol Airport involved a partnership with an airline technology company, iFLEAT, and a local food delivery provider, Thuisbezorgd, part of Just Eat Takeaway airline food delivery Baarssen Fokke/Alamy via Reuters Connect
A pilot scheme delivering food to airline passengers at Amsterdam’s Schiphol Airport involved Thuisbezorgd, a local delivery provider
  • Meals will be pre-ordered via app
  • Courier will deliver food to plane
  • ‘Mainstream within five years’

Airline passengers will soon be able to pre-order meals for their journey from a delivery app, a leading industry executive has predicted.

The Dubai-based global air and travel services provider Dnata launched a trial of a pre-flight order and delivery scheme in the Netherlands four years ago.

Robin Padgett, divisional senior vice-president of the company’s catering division, described the pilot scheme as a “step-change in the in-flight dining experience”.

Padgett told AGBI he expected the idea to become mainstream within the next five years.

“From the trial we saw, it is doable,” he said. “I’ve got some quiet work going on in a location in this part of the world to understand it.”

The project at Amsterdam’s Schiphol Airport involved a partnership with an airline technology company, iFLEAT, and a local delivery provider, Thuisbezorgd, part of Just Eat Takeaway.

Passengers were able to order their food from the app an hour before take-off, choosing from salads, poke bowls, sushi platters and different hot meals. Their orders were then delivered to the aircraft before the flight took off.

Padgett said: “You can’t offer the full range, because of physical limitations, of course, and getting that food processed through an airport is quite difficult.

“But we’ve developed some techniques for doing it, and in probably about four to five years’ time it will become relatively mainstream, particularly for short-haul airlines, particularly in high-density locations.”

The data company Statista estimates that in 2027 the global airline catering services market will be worth around $22 billion. 

The Dubai flag carrier Emirates provides dining in the sky for more than 77 million customers each year. Meals are made by a team of 1,400 chefs at the Emirates Flight Catering facility in Dubai and at partner caterers around the world.

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