Air connectivity growth driving GCC travel catering business

435The rising volume of air travellers due to enhanced air connectivity to and from the rapidly-expanding Arabian Gulf airports is making the travel catering business platter bigger and prompting expansion of facilities in the region.

To be held from 10th to 12th May, 2015 at Dubai International Convention and Exhibitions Centre (DICEC), the second edition of Travel Catering Expo (TCE) will provide wider business networking for key players in the industry and an opportunity to tap new business leads in the region.

Co-located with the 15th edition of Airport Show, TCE will be held under the patronage of His Highness Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al Maktoum, President of Dubai Civil Aviation Authority (DCAA), Chairman of Dubai Airports and Chairman and Chief Executive of Emirates Airline and Group. It is supported by DCAA, Dubai Airports, Emirates Flight Catering (EKFC) and Food Point.

Highlighting the importance of aviation as an integral part of the region’s economic growth, Sheikh Ahmed said: “The importance of airports as global travel hubs continues to grow and massive investments being made to meet the rising traffic demand are having a positive economic impact throughout the region.”

He added: “The event will bring international aviation experts and leaders to Dubai for an unparalleled knowledge and expertise sharing experience.”

A latest market study noted: “The trend of serving prepackaged meals in airlines is on rise over the past few years. The airline catering market is expected to rise in coming years on account of improving world economy, rising number of airplane deliveries and growth in airline passengers.”

The GCC accounts for a significant share of the global travel catering market estimated at $15 billion, with an annual growth rate of five per cent. The rising demand for catering for passengers has resulted in catering facilities being transformed, expanded and upgraded across the region.

Emirates Flight Catering (EKFC), the region’s largest caterer, which provides in-flight catering for airlines flying into or out of Dubai International Airport - currently the world’s second busiest for international passengers with a projected throughput of 70 million in 2014 - is enhancing the scope of its business.

It is bracing itself to meet the challenges posed by rapid expansion of air connectivity out of Dubai. The world’s largest inflight caterer has two technologically-advanced catering facilities in Dubai. Last year, the company provided 53 million meals.

Its current expansion plan includes building two more facilities in its premises at the Dubai International Airport. While already catering in excess of 185,000 meals a day, EKFC expects the number to double by 2020. So a three-phased expansion plan has been put in place.

The first phase of the plan is already completed. Of the two new units that are planned, one will be completed by the end of next year and another one by mid-2016. The entire expansion will be completed by the end of 2016 and EKFC will have the capacity of producing in excess of around 330,000 meals per day. The business will also require doubling the current staff strength of 8,000 employees.

Apart from the meals that are prepared and uplifted to the flights in Dubai International Airport, EKFC provides food and beverage services to the majority of airline hospitality lounges and operates several cafeterias in the arrival and departure areas of Terminal 1, 2 and 3.

Dubai’s phenomenal passenger traffic increases are primarily driven by the fast-paced growth of Emirates which currently connects Dubai to more than 142 destinations in 80 countries, and flydubai which now serves more than 65 destinations across 35 countries.

Daniyal Qureshi, Group Exhibition Director, Reed Exhibitions Middle East, organizers of TCE, said: “The huge growth in the regional aviation industry has opened the doors for excellent commercial opportunities in the travel catering sector. In line with record regional airport and airline growth, especially across the six GCC states, we expect the regional travel catering business to increase four fold over the next five years as well, and TCE is the perfect platform to tap into these exceptional growth opportunities.”

An enlarged Hosted Buyers programme is one of the main features of the 2015 Expo. More than 30 buyers are expected to benefit from the programme compared with 20 buyers last year, a 50 per cent increase. Authorities already confirmed to attend in 2015 include Qatar Airways, Gulf Air, Kuwait Aviation Services, Jordan Aviation Airline and Kenya Airways, amongst others.

The Expo will showcase Travel Catering, Beverage, Food Warming and Refrigeration Equipment, Trolleys, Commercial Catering, Cleaning and Dishwashing Equipment, Food Packaging, Processing, Preparation and Preservation Equipment, Industrial Laundry Equipment Logistics and Transportation Services.

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