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Airlines look to cut costs with their inflight meals

Airline food retro
PHOTO: Timmy is happy about the change from prawns to chicken

Out with the prawns and shrimp – in with the chicken.

One of the largest airline catering companies in the world, Singapore’s SATS, is increasing the use of chicken in menus to reduce costs as the aviation industry struggles to recuperate losses from the Covid-19 pandemic. SATS provides an extensive range of third-party services, including catering for airlines.

“SATS Ltd, an acronym derived from Singapore Airport Terminal Services, is a Singaporean airport service company that handles the main ground handling and in-flight catering service provider at its country’s Changi Airport. SATS controls about 80% of Changi Airport’s ground handling and catering business.”

It revealed that it is replacing prawns with chicken as a routine substitution because the meat is “less expensive”. The decision is made by airlines that either desire to maintain prices by reducing protein or substitute the protein in meals to lower the outlay for food.

The SATS’ President and CEO, Kerry Mok, stated in response to an analyst’s question during a webcast on the firm’s fiscal third-quarter results, “if the prawns are too expensive, we will change to chicken”.

SATS recently reported that its quarterly earnings dwindled to US$375,000), a decrease from US$3.8 million in the previous year. The company’s shares declined by up to 8% the following day before ending down by 4.7%, marking their largest decline in three months. Nonetheless, the outcome was an improvement from the preceding quarter when the firm recorded a S$9.9 million loss (mostly due to the early days of the aviation industry’s recovery). SATS served 49.1 million meals in the initial nine months of fiscal 2023, a 25% rise from the previous year.

The global aviation sector is in a phase of rebuilding, striving to restore capacity and personnel to address a resurgence in travel.

The recovery has been staggered as nations opened at different times, with China, one of the world’s largest air travel markets, just recently ending its rigorous Covid restrictions. The International Air Transport Association anticipates airline industry losses to amount to $6.9 billion in 2022, following losses of $42 billion in 2021 and $38 billion in 2020.

In the meantime, you’ll have to put up with the chicken instead of the prawns.

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