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