December 7 2020  |  Catering

dnata's year in review

By Jane Hobson

This is a special feature from PAX International's December 2020 FTE APEX Virtual Expo digital edition.

dnata has launched a dedicated inflight retail unit which will deliver tailor-made onboard retail programs and innovative solutions for airline customers

As most caterers across the industry have experienced, 2020 has been a year without much catering to be done for dnata.

Instead, says Robin Padgett, Divisional Senior Vice President, the company’s focus has been on supporting and creating value for its customers and local communities across its 63 units. It has adapted its operations and processes to the “new world,” enhanced existing services and launched new ones to meet changing demand, he says. These initiatives include serving health and aged-care industries, selling bespoke meals directly to the consumer and supplying ingredients, meals and packaged goods to local support and community groups.

The caterer has increased its capability to serve health and aged care industries to support relief efforts. Among the activities are delivering meals for quarantine facilities and those in compulsory isolation in many countries. Padgett says dnata’s approximately 120 airline customers have been helpful, supporting the repackaging and distribution of meals that would have otherwise been served onboard.

“The community and industry spirit remain strong,” Padgett says.

Robin Padgett, Divisional Senior Vice President, dnata Catering

Meanwhile in Australia, dnata is selling direct-to-consumer meals via its production business Snapfresh. The caterer is supplying more than 30 nutritious meals, similar to what would be served onboard and broadening the menu as customers give feedback and requests. The current menu includes vegetarian dishes, curries, breakfasts and desserts. Padgett says the company plans to grow its retail offer in the future through direct-to-consumer and other retail channels.

In communities where its units operate, dnata is working with local support and community groups to get ingredients, meals and packaged goods to people in need.

“This delivers great value to the community but also the pride our teams take from giving back is great,” Padgett says. “We’re seeing that across the dnata network, from Ireland down to Australia, and that’s really pleasing to see.”

Despite the year, the caterer has also seen its share of achievements in 2020, including the opening of a new unit in Dublin, a pre-order inflight retail initiative in partnership with iFLEAT, and most recently a dedicated global inflight retail unit based in the UK. The latter, announced at the end of November, is a specialist retail unit delivering tailor-made inflight retail programs and innovative solutions for airlines. The initiative allows its customers to maximize onboard ancillary revenue and enhance the passenger experience. Padgett says the new unit cements the caterer’s credentials as a truly end-to-end inflight and airport service provider.

Looking to the future, dnata aims to ensure its operations are nimble and able to deal with further flight service fluctuations. The caterer is working with its airline customers to develop menus and products in readiness for the new year. Padgett says the team is pleased to see an ongoing and gradual return to service as schedules expand.

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