Overcoming the 5 Top Challenges in Airline Catering

You are cruising at 36,000 feet, your stomach rumbles as the flight attendant approaches with your inflight meal. They place it on your tray-table and a delicious smell engulfs your nostrils. You tuck in. But where did this meal come from? How was it prepared? And how was it loaded onto the plane? These are probably not questions you are going to be asking, or even considering as you enjoy your inflight meal; but there are many technicalities that must be performed and analysed to ensure successful inflight service.

Airline catering is not like any other type of catering, it has many more challenges, such as restricted storage space, food safety regulations, short turnaround times and frequent changes to flight schedules, to name a few.

A typical airline will need to load around half a million items per day, operating on a very tight schedule. With so many challenges, the planning and logistics that contribute to the end result are often underestimated.

 

Support and Innovation

To provide the highest standard of passenger service, it is important to implement innovative services and deliver hybrid operational service strategies. This approach enables airlines to provide wider price options on the same flight, to satisfy both passengers who expect a high standard of service and those who want to minimise their expenditure.

 

 

Increase Operational Flexibility

Flexibility is essential in airline catering, and service change requests need to be implemented quickly and seamlessly. Having the flexibility to change the menu in a very short period, from design and planning, to preparation and delivery, is key to providing a range of products and services to passengers.

 

Improve Efficiency

With short turnaround times and rising fuel costs to contend with, improving operational efficiency is essential. Preparation duties prior to departure need to be more efficient without compromising on service quality.

 

Supply Chain Optimisation

Optimising the supply chain is another challenge that must be overcome to provide the highest quality of inflight services whilst regulating costs. Improving consumption forecasting to reduce food waste and reduce stock levels is a top priority for airlines. Having accurate information about stock levels and smart consumption forecasting technology can save airlines a significant amount of money.

 

Real-time and Accurate Data

To reduce delays, airlines and staff need to have accurate, real-time operational data available to enable fast decision-making. Providing airports and airlines with real-time data regarding inflight services, helps to reduce delays that can have a major financial impact for both the airport and airlines.

In order to overcome these challenges, utilising innovative technology that provides data-driven solutions is essential. With so many different processes involved in airline catering services, having a streamlined overview of the relevant information can increase efficiency and prevent delays.

From the ability to intricately manage supply chain activity, to dynamically coordinating inflight service operations, Promeus provides all the tools needed to overcome some of the most challenging hurdles in the industry.

How Weight Influences Flight Performances

With the price of jet fuel increasing by around 90% over the last year, it is understandable that airlines are looking into every possible solution to reduce their fuel consumption and improve flight performance. A flight from New York JFK to London Heathrow costs in excess of £30,000 in fuel, and fuel costs account for between 20-40% of airline expenditure, so it is an area that requires precision management.

The weight and balance of an aircraft also contributes to the amount of fuel required, not to mention the overall safety of the flight.

What affects fuel consumption?

Every aircraft is different but the key factors that contribute towards fuel consumption include:

• Size of the aircraft
• Efficiency of the aircraft
• Taxi time
• Sector length
• Cargo weight
• Weather
• Jet stream direction
• Weight of fittings
• Fuel weight

Getting the weight and balance correct is an essential element of flight planning that ensures a safe, comfortable experience for passengers and crew. Deficiencies in loading can cause take-off issues, endangering lives, and potentially damaging the multi-million-pound aircraft.

Pilots must be educated on 14 technical subjects when they study for their license, and one of these is ‘Mass and Balance’. Before they prepare for take-off, pilots are required to check that the total weight of the aircraft is within the correct range and that passengers, baggage and cargo are distributed to ensure balance.

There are three main components that must be used in the calculation of take-off performance: the empty weight of the aircraft (which stays the same each flight); the payload for that specific flight (passengers, baggage and cargo); and fuel, which will also change for each flight.

Passenger weight is calculated using, a standard mass for adults and children. The amount of fuel can vary depending on a variety of factors, but must adhere to safety regulations, which cater for a certain amount of spare fuel. This ensures that if there are any unexpected issues, such as diverting to a new route, there is an adequate amount of fuel to complete the journey. It is common for airlines to load enough fuel for 1.5 trips and then top this up prior to the return flight, if this can be done without delays.

The distribution of cargo and passenger weight is key to ensuring the aircraft does not tip back onto its tail. The load sheet which is produced for the pilot, will calculate the centre of gravity and gross weight of the aircraft at take-off. To rectify uneven distribution of weight, passengers may be asked to relocate to different sections of the aircraft; or cargo and baggage may need to be loaded into rear compartments.

Promeus can help you and your airline make vital decisions, backed-up by intricate data. The Promeus system is a cloud-based Saas that dynamically analyses and calculates the factors listed above, amongst many others, to support and drive your decisions.

Stop wasting money on inefficient flights and set your airline up for success with Promeus.

Food Innovation Onboard: 3 Different Approaches

The airline industry is highly competitive and airline companies are constantly exploring ways to gain a competitive advantage. Introducing innovative services and improving the customer experience are key to generating new customers and retaining current customers.

With digital solutions evolving at great pace, exciting innovations and ideas are being introduced to all areas of airline operation, including catering services. Airlines are making headlines around the world with creative concepts, and these are three impressive yet very different approaches to food innovation:

 

British Airways presents the traditional British Roast

Airline menus are often curated to celebrate the local cuisine and culture of the country they are based in. British Airways have taken their catering up a level by offering passengers the most traditional British cuisine possible – a roast dinner with all of the trimmings. Passengers can expect 21-day aged British beef served with roast potatoes, seasoned vegetables and the customary Yorkshire pudding as part of the Best of British menus.

 

KLM recruit catering robots

KLM Catering Services is believed to be the first company in the world use a robot system in the meal production process. The innovative robot system is able to reduce passenger meal production costs and adjust meal trays, providing a wider range of meals on different types of trays.

Maarten Stienen the MD at KCS said:

“It’s important to continue to innovate and invest, even in these difficult times. It serves to increase the quality of our products. I’m very proud that KCS is the only catering company in the world to apply such mechanization.”

 

Transavia and Just Eat launch exciting new partnership

Just Eat has become one of the most well-used apps, building a strong reputation for providing a fast, convenient process for ordering takeaway meals around the world. Transavia identified that the efficient food ordering solution could be incorporated into their catering services. The programme has been piloted on flights from Amsterdam to destinations in Greece, Portugal and Italy, giving passengers the opportunity to place an order up to one hour before departure.

Passengers have an option of 10 different meals, including vegan options, that are freshly prepared and delivered by Just Eat to the aircraft and the cabin crew then serves the meals to the passengers. As well as providing passengers with a bigger meal choice, the partnership is also expected to reduce the amount of food waste caused by meals being prepared but not being consumed. For Just Eat, this is just another extension to their services which already deliver to offices, train stations and many other unusual locations.

These three food innovations may be very different, but they all work around the principle that it is vital to continuously innovate and improve catering services. Promeus, the unique Inflight Service operating system, places a plethora of innovative functionalities at your airline’s finger-tips. It seamlessly adapts as other aspects of your airline progress, helping you save time and money

Find out more about how Promeus technology can support your airline.

 

How AI is Changing the Aviation Industry

Artificial Intelligence (AI) is such an exciting technology development that has unlimited future opportunities. AI has been implemented to improve safety, increase work efficiency and reduce the time it takes to complete tasks. Almost every industry has benefitted from AI, including healthcare, finance, retail and transportation.

The aviation industry has also embraced the use of AI to deliver some major benefits, from improving air safety to developing more efficient in-flight services. These are some of the top ways that airlines are using AI:

Revenue Management

With the cost of fuel increasing, it is more important than ever for airlines to find better ways to manage revenue and AI has been used to great effect in this area. For example, AI enables airlines to adjust prices for specific markets using data to identify key marketing opportunities such as most suitable destinations and what time a customer is most likely to buy flights or which customers are more likely to buy in high seasons. AI can also be used to learn whether a customer is likely to pay for extras such as baggage.

Fraud detection

With more sophisticated fraud scams targeting all industries, fraud detection solutions have become very necessary. IATA estimated that airlines lose around $1 billion every year through fraud including stolen cards, fraudulent lost baggage claims and many other scams. AI helps to identify potential fraud attempts by analysing data patterns.

Full self-driving

In the same way that the automotive industry has invested heavily into self-driving technology, the aviation industry is making ground on this too. Although this is not yet a reality, AI will be integral in developing safe self-driving planes and in the future, automation could help to improve flight safety.

In-flight sales, food supply and cabin crew

There are so many different processes across in-flight sales and catering services that can be enhanced through AI. Food wastage is a considerable cost to airlines and AI analyses data to accurately predict which meals will be ordered on which flights, and how many meals should be available to minimise waste.

AI can also be implemented to help to reduce costs of food production by analysing which suppliers can provide the most cost-effective ingredients.

Scheduling crew onto flights can be a very time-consuming task but AI helps to review availability and schedule crew members, based on a wide range of factors including flight routes, scheduled days off or holidays, work regulations and aircraft type. Having an adequate number of required in-flight crew members is essential for safety, as well as from a customer service point of view.

AI performs the analysis all of the relevant data to generate huge volumes of work schedules for all the flights operated by airlines on a daily basis, a job that would otherwise require extensive work from a large team of people.

Promeus incorporates AI technology in our innovative software to enable airlines to identify more efficiencies and reduce costs, providing real-time data to support your decision-making.