Emirates' onboard meals from Dubai are now supplied from a new and purpose built flight catering facility, that is the most modern - and the largest of its kind in volume throughout in the world.
The US$120 million complex, with a design capacity to produce 115,000 meals per day, became fully operational at the start of this month.
The new flight kitchen is exclusive to Emirates while the existing one, adjacent to it, continues to serve all other airlines. Both are operated by Emirates Flight Catering (EKFC), which is 90 per cent owned by Emirates and 10 per cent by Dubai's Department of Civil Aviation.
The new facility covers a total area of 55,000 square metres, spread over four floors, and services around 115 departures and 115 aircraft arrivals per day.
It has been designed by the EKFC management team in consultation with i+O, the German industrial design company specialising in inflight catering facilities, and incorporates the latest systems in hygiene, security, energy saving, food production and automated equipment handling to ensure that Emirates passengers enjoy onboard food that is totally fresh, perfectly cooked and absolutely hygienic.
Duncan Davis, Senior Vice President Airport Catering Services, commented: "An inflight catering facility is like a Rubik's Cube; there are so many products and processes that all have to come together at the right time and in the right place."
At EKFC, the answer to managing huge demand is automation. That includes an electric monorail system for meal and beverage carts, a bin conveyor system for equipment and a vacuum waste disposal system throughout the facility.
Food Safety is ensured with a comprehensive documented HACCP (Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point) system in place. Temperatures are continuously monitored using infrared surface temperature "guns" whilst the in-house microbiology laboratory carries out random tests of raw food, finished product, water, ice, equipment, hand and equipment swabs.
A customised module for core flight catering operations (Flight Catering Solution) has been developed jointly by Oracle and EKFC. This integrates seamlessly with other standard JD Edwards modules for forecasting, procurement, inventory control and catering order processing and invoicing.
The kitchens incorporate preparation areas for Chinese, Japanese, Asian Sub-Continental, Arabic, Middle Eastern and Continental meals, a special kitchen for Emirates' range of medical, dietary and religious special meals, training and presentation kitchens. Despite the varied range of dishes produced, however, no pork or pork products ever enters the facility and all food products used are halal.
Operating from 34 inbound and 38 outbound docks, EKFC's fleet of 98 catering high loader trucks (with another 31 on order) include a specialised vehicle for servicing the Upper Deck doors of the A380 aircraft. EKFC are one of the first airline catering companies in the world to order such vehicles and additional orders will be placed well before EK receive delivery of the first A380 aircraft in 2008.
Inflight catering facilities at Dubai International Airport date back to 1975 when production was 2,000 to 2,500 meals per day. In 1981, the company name was changed to DNATA – Abela. In 1985, Emirates Airline was established. In year 2000 the Emirates Abela Catering Company was founded and in 2003, it was renamed Emirates Flight Catering. Currently, the company serves a total of 110 international airlines with 82,000 meals per day (62,000 for Emirates) and employs 5,000 plus staff.
Other EKFC locations include food and beverage outlets in off-airport locations and airport terminals including First Class and Business Class Hospitality Lounges, Event Catering, LinenCraft, the largest and most sophisticated industrial laundry in the Middle East and Food Point, the off-site meal production facility located in Dubai Investment Park, the only one of its kind located between the Far East and Europe.
Currently, Emirates Flight Catering produces 26 million meals per year, a number that is expected to rise to 45 million in 2014. Not only meal numbers are increasing; the company's asset value, at present Dh900 million, is expected to almost double to Dh1.6 billion in the next seven years.
FAST FACTS – EK DEDICATED CATERING FACILITY
- Largest airline catering facility in the world in terms of throughput
- Total area 55.000 square metres
- Total cost US$120 million
- Throughput design capacity 115,000 meals per day
- Meal and Inflight service equipment items processed each day 1.5 million
- Monorail cart transport system 2.55 km
- Number of carts handled per day 17,000
- Number of galley boxes handled per day 13,000
- Equipment bin transport conveyor 1.10 km
- Number of bins carrying equipment on conveyor system 10,000
- Number of CCTV cameras throughout the facility 220
- Ice cube production 24 tons per day