Passengers flying out of the Tribhuban International Airport who passed on the breakfast tray now have something to look forward to.
This week, the world's largest in-flight catering company, LSG Sky Chefs, is launching a joint venture with Soaltee Inflight Catering to supply in-flight meals from a state-of-the-art facility near Kathmandu airport.
LSG Sky Chefs is a subsidiary of Lufthansa and Soaltee Hotel and has over 25 years experience in providing meals for airlines departing from Kathmandu. The facility at Tilganga has the capacity to produce 4,000 meals a day, but will start with 1,800 meals for Royal Nepal Airlines, Qatar Airways, Austrian Airlines, Indian Airlines and various charter operators flying out of Kathmandu.
LSG Regional Director, Michael Malchartzeck is in Kathmandu this week for the launch of the facility, and says his company sees a lot of potential for growth in the subcontinent's air travel market. "We wish to widen our market and for that we see Nepal as the right place," Malchartzeck told us, saying he is encouraged by the increasing numbers of airlines flying into Kathmandu and the ones which are here increasing their frenquency.
LSG Sky Chefs has 35 percent of the world's market in flight catering and has 270 airline clients from more than 200 customer service centres in 48 countries. It produces more than 300 million airline meals a year and generated revenues of more than $3.3 billion last year. Now that LSG has its production unit in Kathmandu, it says its pool of 600 chefs from all around the world will also have Nepali chefs.
Sharad Satyal of Soaltee's Inflight Catering says the Tilganga facility has high-tech equipment to ensure that every step of food processing is documented to ensure international quality standards. "There is a foolproof system to guarantee hygiene," he says.
Indeed, the meal centre took nine months of stringent tests by LSG's quality control technicians before the franchise license was approved. The facility has the country's only blast chiller, the largest bakery and the latest flight-catering equipment.
"From the moment an item is received in the building until the moment the finished product is loaded onto the aircraft, it is kept under carefully monitored hygiene and food safety conditions with strictly controlled temperatures," Satyal says.