Thursday, 22 June 2017


This is a branch of catering which has increased rapidly over the past years. Its growth and
development are mainly the result of introducing tourist and economy class fares and the vast
number of passengers who now travel by air. It has expanded the horizons of the business world and
it has given the ordinary man a hunger and thirst to see parts of the world which 50 years ago would
have been out of his reach.
The International Air Transport Association (I. A. T. A.) Thought it necessary to lay down
maximum standards of meals in both the tourist and economy classes, because of the vast increase
in the number of customers. The standard of meals was obviously lowered in ratio with the smaller
fare paid, and the sudden vast increase in numbers created demands the kitchens could not meet.
The cabin crews had to serve more meals in the same time, and their numbers proved inadequate.
The first catering seen on planes was virtually a packed lunch of assorted sandwiches and a thermos
of tea, and it was a case of take it or leave it.
The International Air Transport Association lays down standards, for the scope of a meal
rather than the price, since costs would obviously vary in two different countries thousands of
kilometers apart. It is now recognized that where only short distances and flight times are involved
then only snack type meals, open sandwiches and beverages are offered. Where longer distances are
involved then the cabin staff and stewardesses have time to give a first class service of food and
beverages, be it silver or gueridon service.
For the economy and tourist flights all meals must be of the same size and with all portions
identical. The meals are arranged in silver foil individual tray, sealed, frozen and then stored until
required. At times 4 tonnes of frozen food may be in cold storage waiting to be used. For the first class
passenger, who would receive a food and beverage service equivalent to that of a first class hotel or
restaurant, there would be no portion control. The service would be such that joints may be carved
from a carving trolley as it moves up the central aisle, and served with the appropriate garnish and
vegetables. This combined with the fine bone china, silver plate, fine glassware and cutlery used
creates an atmosphere of content and well-being whilst the meal is being served. The economy or
tourist class meal would be served on a plastic or melamine tray using disposable place mats, cutlery
and serviettes and disposable glasses for any drinks required. Great use is made here of pre-portioned
foods such as salt, peppers, mustard, sugar, cream, cheeses, dry biscuits, preserves etc.
This aids portion control, cuts down on wastage and reduces washing up and breakages.
When all the food has been cooked the required quantities of each portion are placed in the
dish by the ‘servers’. Garnish would be added where appropriate. This dish may then be placed into
hot cupboards and kept hot until being transported into the plane where they would be plugged into
the aircraft supply. An alternative to this would be that the meal is frozen, stored in the catering
unit until required and when necessary reheated on board of the aircraft.
Conveyor belts are used for cold dishes made up of a variety of cold items, and the dishes pass
down a slow moving belt and servers add the necessary items in their correct order. To help this
process a color photograph of the dish concerned is used as a visual reminder to the servers as to
what the end product should look like. The completed trays have to be stored in air-larders on
shelves very close together because of the storage of space. Therefore there has to be a height limit
for the contents of a dish - usually five centimeters (2”). We now have the hot food stored in hot
cupboards and the cold food in air-larders.
We have said that under the one roof of the commissary we find everything needed for a flight.
To complete the service to the passenger other items have to be provided apart from hot and cold food
and beverages. These would include - Newspapers, Brochures, Toys, Crayons, Playing Cards, First
Aid Kits, Slipperettes, Toilet Requisites, Pens, Magazines, etc.
To cope with the demand for meals and beverages and the various requirements of the
different airlines as much labor saving equipment as possible is used. This includes:
Washing Machine : Cleans, sterilizes and dries 12,000 pieces of equipment per hour.
Bread & Butter Machine : Producing 55 slices of buttered bread per minute.
Coffee Stills : Producing 54 liters (12 gallons) every 20 minutes.
Auto Ice Units : Making 1.5kg of ice cubes every minutes.
Each airline will supply its own equipment such as cutlery, china, glassware and so on. They
will also provide certain foods from their own countries for the catering unit to incorporate in their
particular menu’s
All alcoholic beverages and cigarettes will be drawn from the bonded stores on the catering
premises under the watchful eye of a representative of Customs & Excise.
When the aircraft is in the air it is the well trained cabin crew who provide the service to the
passengers. Their job at times is very difficult especially when the time for a trip is very short, i.e., 45
- 60 minutes in which a meal has to be served. No cooking is done on a flight apart from some
ancillary items such as toast, making beverages and so on. High speed circulation ovens heat 48
meals in 20 minutes. The tray with the meal on its sits on a pull-out table. In between meals tea,
coffee, biscuits and cakes are served together with cold drinks. If special dishes are required for
vegetarians, children or invalids this will be done. The menus and wine lists are presented in a
colorful and decorative fashion. An example of these menu’s and wine lists would be as follows: