It Is tIme to shIne a lIght on the cater­ers' Im­mense con­trI­bu­tIon

Onboard Hospitality - - In Conversation -

For decades the air­line cater­ing sec­tor has been some­how hid­den, it has not been seen or re­spected as a real in­dus­try and it re­ally is time for this to change.

My back­ground has al­ways been re­lated to air trans­port, in as­soica­tions (air­lines and air traf­fic man­age­ment), or one of the OEMs. I was al­ways cu­ri­ous why the one area in the air­line value chain that had no clear trade body was cater­ing. This as­ton­ished me. In the past cater­ing op­er­a­tions be­longed to the air­lines so air­line bod­ies could rep­re­sent their in­ter­ests to some ex­tent. Today, cater­ing is much more in­de­pen­dent and the busi­ne­ses that sup­port it have to re­act and re­spond to changes in dif­fer­ent ways. They need bet­ter ways to make their value and needs known.

In­flu­ence

Per­haps the key rea­son the five found­ing mem­bers have formed ACA now is the in­creas­ing vol­ume and bur­den of leg­is­la­tion gov­ern­ing air­lines. The leg­is­la­tion cas­cades down onto the cater­ers and they have to com­ply, but they have no op­por­tu­nity to be in­volved in the for­ma­tion of reg­u­la­tions which are of­ten cre­ated with­out them in mind at all. They need ways to in­flu­ence that de­ci­sion mak­ing.

Best prac­tice

For a rel­a­tively young in­dus­try, air­line cater­ing is very well con­sol­i­dated and ma­ture, es­pe­cially when com­pared to the num­ber of air­lines it serves. It has the ex­per­tise and ex­pe­ri­ence to set and im­pose its own stan­dards and es­tab­lish best prac­tise from within. It needs to de­fine the stan­dards it is work­ing to and can then lead and in­flu­ence leg­is­la­tors rather than sim­ply im­ple­ment­ing what is be­ing im­posed from else­where. In ar­eas such as food la­belling, safety, se­cu­rity or the en­vi­ron­ment we are con­fi­dent we can drive pos­i­tive change, from within.

Vis­i­bil­ity

It is also true that in the 21st cen­tury the pas­sen­ger ex­pects full choice at their fingertips, and trans­parency in ev­ery­thing they do. Cater­ers are be­com­ing more vis­i­ble and have to take con­trol of their own des­tiny. We have to show we are a key stake­holder in avi­a­tion and show the added value we bring con­sumers and the global econ­omy in terms of jobs, rev­enue, ser­vice and ex­pe­ri­ence. We have a very com­pelling story to tell, we have to roll up our sleeves, re­veal the in­cred­i­ble facts about our in­dus­try and then get out there to com­mu­ni­cate and de­mys­tify it. It is time to move out of the shad­ows and shine a light on the im­mense con­tri­bu­tion we make to avi­a­tion.

Fol­low­ing the launch of the new Air Cater­ing As­so­ci­a­tion, (ACA) we ask new md Fabio Gamba to share his aims and am­bi­tions in the new role

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