Leaders in the onboard catering sector report recovery is now well underway with an acceleration towards smarter solutions being driven by the Covid-19 crisis.
Speaking at the first online webinar run by the Airline Caterers’ Association (ACA) the heads of gategroup, LSG Group and dnata Catering & Retail shared a platform as they championed recovery and acknowledged the sector is at a point of transformation.
Robin Padgett, senior vp catering at dnata Catering & Retail and ACA chair, said: “I don’t want to proclaim a false dawn but we feel we are on a strong and clear pathway out of the pandemic. Business is back to 50% of pre-covid levels. The market is different in different regions but it feels like a recovery in every market – some from a very low base, others about half way back – but the trend is unambiguously up, so we are quietly confident we are going in the right direction.”
Erdmann Rauer, CEO LSG Group, said: “The pandemic showed us all how fragile our business was. As an industry we were all in the same boat, with a big responsibility to find our way to the future for our employees and stakeholders. We had to stand together to learn from the crisis, within the ACA and within our own companies, and at LSG Group we saw it was fast decision-making and being flexible that was essential. The crisis was also an accelerator to smarter solutions. Technology became key, transforming what we do.”
Christoph Schmidt, CEO gategroup, added: “The market is growing, only four percent of the world’s population has taken a flight, and we know that on mid to long haul flights passengers will always need to eat – so the fundamentals remain in place. It is a
complicated business so not easy for new players to come in, and those who look see there is a big risk regarding the stability of the major airline clients who lost 80-90% of their revenues in the pandemic. Happily they survived so the industry overall is not at
risk but the pandemic has shown the vulnerabilities.
“We have had to do a lot to survive too but we are more resilient now after the crisis, we are diversifying away from airline to food service and this helps spread the business risk. This industry still has lots of potential. We have to be ready for the recovery whether it is with service or retail related F&B, and we need to be close to our customers and close to their customers, so we understand what they want.”