Monday, February 28, 2011

Bangkok Air Catering cooking up Phuket airport plan

Catering unit would challenge TG venture

Bangkok Air Catering (BAC) has set its sights on opening a second major facility at Phuket Airport to cash in on growing demand from carriers.
BAC’s Suvarnabhumi facility employs 500 staff who produce 17,500 inflight meals a day, with a full capacity of 25,000.
The flight catering unit of Bangkok Airways is in talks with Airports of Thailand Plc (AoT), the operator of Thailand's six main airports, about setting up a flight kitchen that could produce up to 8,000 meals a day.
The nearly one-billion-baht facility would break the monopoly of the existing sole caterer at Phuket airport _ a joint venture between Thai Airways International, AoT and a business group led by the hotel tycoon Vichit na Ranong.
Thavatvong Thanasumitra, Bangkok Airways' executive vice-president for finance, said the proposed Phuket facility formed part of the expansion plan of BAC, which has successfully operated a multi-billion-baht facility at Bangkok's Suvarnabhumi Airport for the past four years.
Linus Knobel, BAC's managing director, said the facility would not only offer inflight meals to airlines making Phuket their port of call but also serve as a platform for BAC to serve other sectors as well.
The Swiss executive said BAC also hoped to provide food and beverage services to the planned sports and convention centre expected to be up and running in three years along with more hotels and restaurants on the southern resort island.
Rising demand for airline meals on flights from Phuket is in line with growing passenger traffic as carriers raise frequencies and startup airlines descend on Phuket, said Mr Thavatvong.
"We're seeing 4-5 million passengers a year go through Phuket airport, and with annual growth of 7-9% that number could easily soar to 7-10 million annually in the next three years," he said, adding that the spike in demand for inflight meals justifies additional caterers.
Mr Knobel said BAC wanted to be part of the 5.79-billion-baht expansion of Phuket Airport, Thailand's second busiest in terms of passenger numbers, which is now under way.
When completed in 2014, the airport will be able to handle 12.5 million passengers a year, almost double the current capacity of 6.5 million.
BAC is currently looking into the feasibility of building the catering facility at the airport and obtaining the rights to serve operators there.
The facility was first proposed in response to requests from its existing airline customers including Qatar Airlines and China Southern, as well as Bangkok Airways, said Mr Knobel.
Mr Thavatvong said BAC hoped to begin its new meal service about the middle of next year.
At the Suvarnabhumi facility, 500 staff produce 17,500 inflight meals a day against a full capacity of 25,000 meals.

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