Inflight or airline catering is a service provided by companies during air travel and at the airports. Catering becomes a very critical part of the business, especially for Network Carriers serving long distances. Meal design and meal planning are important processes of catering services. According to International Air Transport Association (IATA), catering planning and catering operations are important areas of activities of inflight services. Various organizations and groups are formed in order to regulate and organize inflight-catering activities. For instance, Inflight Catering Work Group was established in 2004, to bring together airlines and caterers in order to discuss issues of mutual concern and of special interest of the catering community, identify potential areas of cooperation, as well as implement concrete solutions. Moreover, Inflight RFID Task Force, focuses on catering trolley tracking and its maintenance history. Both these groups work with IATA.
Meals segment is expected to show a significant growth in the global inflight catering market in 2018. This is attributed to increasing number of international passengers and long air travel. Key players are opting various marketing strategies to attract customers’ attention such as mini-meal and healthy snacks provision. For instance, OTG, which operates over 300 restaurants and retail concepts in 10 airports across North America, provides local foods for global passengers. It uses locally sourced ingredients from local farms straight to the airport.
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Economy class segment held significant market share in global inflight catering market in 2018, owing to affordable economy class air tickets. Governments of various countries are introducing customer friendly policies to fuel growth of the aviation industry. For instance, UDAN-RCS, regional airport development and ‘Regional Connectivity Scheme" (RCS) of Government of India, was launched in April 2017, with the objective: "Let the common citizen of the country fly". The scheme aimed at making air travel affordable and widespread, to fuel inclusive national economic development, job growth, and air transport infrastructure development of all regions and states of India.
Europe held significant market share in the global inflight catering market in 2017, owing to increasing number of people travelling to European countries and travel friendly policies of the European government. For instance, the Directive 96/97 by European Union applies to all types of airside and landside ground handling services, such as passenger and baggage handling, aircraft services and aircraft maintenance, fuel and oil handling, and catering services at all EU airports is open to commercial traffic with annual traffic over two million passenger movements or 50,000 tons of cargo.
The global inflight catering market was valued at US$ 16.8 billion in 2017, and is anticipated to register a CAGR of 6.2% in terms of revenue, during the forecast period (2018– 2026), to reach US$ 28.02 billion by 2026.
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Major players operating in the global inflight catering market include, SATS ltd., Gate Gourmet, LSG Sky Chefs, DO & CO Aktiengesellschaft, NewrestInternational Group, Emirates Flight Catering, Flying Food Group, Journey Group plc, and DubaiNational Air Transport Association.
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