Says Schweitzer, “It makes sense to own kitchens in certain markets. In some markets it makes sense to have contractual arrangements with a local supplier; and in some markets we just send a catering order to a good supplier on a non-contractual basis and they provide the food.”
Air Chef is also reaching out beyond the U.S. market, entering contractual agreements recently with providers in Hawaii, Mexico, and Europe. A Paris agreement is expected to be completed later this year.
Both Celentano and Schweitzer see electronic ordering via the Internet — along with electronic processing, billing, and tracking — as the next big wave and both companies have been investing heavily in the related technology. At Rudy’s, says Celentano, the company has spent a half million dollars on a new deliver and tracking system, ala the UPS delivery truck, that ensures accountability and ease of use for the customer.
At Air Chef, says Schweitzer, a recent emphasis has been on developing its online ordering system, in cooperation with Professional Flight Management and Universal Weather and Aviation, Inc. Users can order catering for flights through PFM’s flight management software and Air Chef’s ordering system.
Comments Schweitzer, “I wanted to get in front of the scheduler or dispatcher with a dedicated interface that’s in their systems everyday. This will lead, I think, in the next 18 months to where you’ll start to see passengers ordering their catering, which gets us closer to the source.”
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