Air Transport World

To feed or not to feed.(food service on US airlines)

That is the question among U.S. airlines, and the answer seems to be either yes or no

Although food can be found aboard fewer and fewer U.S. airline flights these days, apparently those passengers who are being fed are enjoying higher quality and/or bigger quantities.

At least that's the conclusion to be drawn from data reported to the U.S. Department of Transportation for the first nine months of 1998. Among the 10 Major airlines, systemwide food expenditures rose 5.2% to $1.8 billion in that period and the amount spent on each passenger climbed 4.1% to $4.55 (see tables, p. 98).

The trend was the same at the 11 National carriers who filed reports, with total food expense jumping 15.5% to $62 million and per-passenger spending rising 17.3% to $2.05.

Total food spending declined at only two Majors, Northwest and America West, in the first three quarters of 1998, while Delta, Continental and TWA posted double-digit increases. Per-passenger spending dipped at United, Alaska and Southwest but soared 18.8% at Delta. None of the Nationals saw their total spending go down, but American Trans Air and Air Wisconsin spent less on each passenger.

The biggest spenders in the period were American, United and Delta in that order. On a per-passenger basis, however, Northwest held the No. 3 spot and Delta slipped to No. 5 among the Majors. All were outspent by World, which lavished $11.13 worth of food on each passenger, and Midwest Express, whose customers enjoyed $10.05 meals.

At the opposite end of the spectrum, Southwest's snack packs, cookies and crackers cost it only 20 cents per passenger, lowest among all 21 carriers.

At the International Inflight Food Service Assn.'s 34th annual conference arid exhibition May 5-8, more than 1,000 representatives from airlines, caterers, and food and beverage companies around the world will gather in San Antonio, Tex. Theme of this year's event is "The Cutting Edge: Achieving Success in the New Millennium. …

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