Bigging it up in Australia

March 25, 2020

dnata Catering has extended its reach right across Australia. Nik Loukas gets the inside story in conversation with ceo Australia, Hiranjan Aloysius

In Australia, dnata Catering is now the largest inflight caterer on the continent. The merger with Qantas’ Q Catering in 2018 means it now has 15 kitchens in nine cities servicing 40 customers.

Chief executive Hiranjan Aloysius explains: “Nearly a year on there’s still a real sense of excitement in the air. Our new colleagues are in dnata Catering uniforms and the units and vehicles have been rebranded”. The company has also invested in 31 new high-lift trucks.

Unleashing potential
The growth is underpinned by the work of the company’s Culinary Academy (Australia), founded in 2015 to ‘unleash the potential of colleagues’ via classroom, online and one-to-one training, masterclasses and mentoring. Employees now participate in national and international competitions and many of the academy students and graduates have won awards. The in-house culinary team consists of award-winning and Michelin-trained chefs from across the globe. They report dine-on-demand, healthier, lighter and fresher meals leading the trends with growing interest in provenance. Special meals are also up, now representing up to 30% of meals loaded.

Paddock to plate
Working closely with suppliers, the culinary team is focused on a ‘paddock to plate’ inflight meal experience, ensuring a sustainable supply chain and quality inflight dining.

A new-build kitchen in Melbourne was the big investment. “We backed ourselves and decided to build,” says Aloysius. The modern, purpose-built facility provides optimal workflow and allows better service to our airline customers.

The purchase of Q Catering included the well-established ready-meal brand, SnapFresh. Many of these meals are being exported as semi-prepared main courses, and then used when catering flights to Australia.

The company is also helping to reduce airline costs, recently partnering with Air Vanuatu to export SnapFresh frozen meals to Port Villa.

“It has certainly been an interesting and challenging year. We had to learn how a former competitor operated, and it was in a manner quite different to the way we did. There were most definitely learnings on both sides of the business that help us release a greater joint potential,” concludes Aloysius.