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Could this be the future of inflight catering?

German airline airberlin has just launched a new inflight service called airgusto, which has the potential to do for traditional inflight caterers what uber has done to traditional taxi drivers.

The idea is that customers can source their inflight meals for long haul flights departing from Berlin directly from a selection of local restaurants. So for Berlin this approved restaurant list comprises Chupenga, which is inspired by the Mexican street food markets of San Francisco; Mondo Pazzo which is classically Italian; Mutzenbacher’s which offers hearty German schnitzel; Superfood which offers primarily healthy organic dishes, and Umami which specialises in creative, traditional Far Eastern cuisine. Each will provide a multi-course menu, at a cost to the customer of between 19 and 37 euros.

The project is the brainchild of a Dutch start-up company, iFleat, who have negotiated the deals, set up the infrastructure and created the iFleat app in order that customers can order no later than 12 hours before departure. The dishes get delivered to the plane and arranged on china, which is then served to customers at their seats by the airline staff.

At the moment the service is only operating out of Berlin, but the idea is neat and the ambition is to spread through a rapidly increasing range of aircraft. For some airline businesses, struggling to compete with the prices offered by no-frills carriers, getting rid of responsibility for catering will be a welcome idea.

However the new suppliers, the restaurants, don’t have the experience of inflight catering, and they may find that what leaves their front door as a high standard meal could appear in front of the consumer, many hours and thousands of miles later, as something rather different.

That will be their challenge.


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