Luxury airline Emirates has emerged as an icon in flight catering business with the same diligence for the first, business and economy class passengers, offering food of every region it flies to.
Based at Dubai International Airport, Emirates Flight Catering provides airline, events and VIP catering, as well as ancillary services including laundry and airport lounge food and beverages.
To keep up with regional and seasonal food trends, Emirates changes its onboard menus monthly and continually reviews its recipes.
With employees drawn from 55 nations, Emirates Flight Catering is the largest of its kind producing on average 225,000 meals per day for Emirates itself, 105 other carriers and airport lounges.
“We passionately promote excellence and efficiency and that's why we're industry leader,” said Saeed Mohammed, chief executive officer of Emirates Flight Catering.
Since Bangladesh is an important market for Emirates, a team of Bangladeshi journalists was flown to the airline's Dubai base to let them see how its flight catering units operate.
The catering units span 88,000 square metres and incorporate the highest level of automation available to airline catering facilities, including a 2.55km-long electric monorail which transports meal carts.
A conveyor system transfers clean items from the equipment cleaning area to the production kitchen for food plating and then on to the operational areas for flight packing. The facilities also feature a vacuum waste system. Both facilities boast the latest systems in hygiene, energy saving and automated food production equipment.
“As one of the world's largest airline catering operations, Emirates Flight Catering constantly looks at innovation, and ways to improve productivity, product and service quality,” said Mohammed.
“Introducing the latest technology to our operations, we secure our own supply chain with high quality and locally-sourced fresh vegetables, while significantly reducing our environmental footprint.”
The airline recycles on average three tonnes of plastic per month, while 21 tonnes of aluminum are sorted and recycled every year. Every month, the airline recovers over 65 tonnes of cardboard packaging which is recycled into new paper products. Emirates Flight Catering also collects recyclable materials from the hospitality lounges in the Dubai airport concourses and from other food and beverage outlets in and around Dubai.
The procurement team plays a vital role within the catering units, but it can only be as good as its network of suppliers, said officials.
“Whether we are buying food or non-food products and services, we are passionate about working with great suppliers and building strong working relationships,” said Adil Akbar, food stores manager at Emirates Flight Catering.
The procurement process is based on competitive tendering and on the principles of transparency, he said. “We will not compromise on quality and will only source from suppliers that meet or who have given a commitment to achieve our standards within an agreed timescale.”
The airline puts a lot of emphasis on hygiene as catering on board is different and requires to follow a stringent set of rules, said Rowelle Uy, duty officer warewash.
Hygiene issues stretch from the collection of raw materials to the production and presentation processes.
“Emirates abides by strict rules of consumer rights and maintains global standards,” Rowelle added.
To improve and sustain quality and standards, Emirates Flight Catering has a learning and development department to provide a comprehensive set of learning and development programmes aligned with the company goals and values, according to its website. It nurtures careers through advanced certification and managerial competence for those who lead teams.
It has developed a number of courses that are conducted internally by qualified trainers. The aim is to provide employees with the tools to evaluate and improve their own performance, as well as to optimise team performance. The range of courses is designed to align the employees with job requirements, and full understanding of workplace performance and safety practices.