NEW DELHI: Covid has led India’s largest flight caterer, Tata Group TajSats, to venture into non-aviation space like starting home delivery of meals, given the sharp decline in air travel and continued suspension of scheduled international flights. All flight caterers have been badly hit since February when Covid-induced travel restrictions started kicking in across the world, including India. Global air traffic is expected to return to pre-Covid levels only by 2024-25. All big hotel chains have also started home delivery of meals from their restaurants across India.
TajSats CEO Manish Gupta told TOI: “We have an aggressive growth plan to expand the portfolio and diversify into non-aviation catering. TajSats has launched a new brand, Anuka, a multi-cuisine virtual restaurant available on the Qmin (Taj Hotels’ food delivery) App in Mumbai and Delhi. It will offer gourmet delights to guests in the comfort of their home.”
TajSats has also launched its “new brands of chocolates (Asa) and Indian sweets (Ishri), which will be available throughout the year for retail sales on e-commerce platforms as well as for institutional sales,” he said, adding that the company’s “focus on food safety and hygiene has increased multifold along with a shift in consumer behavior and their wish to only consume food from trusted brands during the pandemic.”
All flight caterers are facing a similar downturn in fortunes and comments were sought from them and were awaited till the time of going to press.
Resumption of onboard selling (by budget airlines) and serving (by full cost carriers) of meals was allowed in August-end for domestic flights. At that time, Indian airlines were allowed to serve hot meals on international flights along with alcohol. However, on domestic flights meal sale is yet to pick up.
“People have started flying again but on short flights, they like to keep their masks on and take them off for eating. On medium to long international flights, one has to eat. Overall meal business is very low,” said a senior airline official.
In pre-pandemic times, the four-decade-old TajSats was catering to over 3.7 lakh flights annually, serving over 2.3 crore meals in a year or over 65,000 meals served on-board daily.
Asked about how the business is in the post-Covid world, Gupta said: “The numbers have dropped as meals were not being served in airlines for the first six months of the lockdown. Meals on-board have restarted from September however with many restrictions like serving cold meals (on domestic flights), pre-plated meals to business class passengers and limited international flights operating. We expect the numbers to resume once travel and borders open-up.”
Source From : Times Of India