An aeroplane meal isn’t normally something to look especially forward to – except maybe the Champagne and Caviar saved for First Class passengers – but Etihad Airways is about to start preparing in-flight meals that could really benefit some of the most disadvantaged people in society. The Abu Dhabi-based airline has announced plans to donate around 400 meals a day as part of its latest charity initiative.
Working out to 150,000 meals a year, Etihad has teamed up with the Emirates Red Crescent organisation to donate meals which would normally be served onboard to labourer residences in Abu Dhabi. Rather than simply getting rid of spare food, it looks like Etihad will be producing fresh meals, especially for labourers.
While the government of Abu Dhabi promotes its luxury hotels and world-class infrastructure, it’s an often ignored fact that the city has been built by cheap labour brought in from the Indian sub-continent. Human Rights Watch claims these workers are often “beaten, exploited, and trapped in forced labour situations.”
The UAE has done a lot to improve conditions in the last few years with employers now forced to offer their workers health insurance, annual leave and at least one day off a week. However, allegations of labourers having their passports confiscated still persist and living conditions remain a concern.
Etihad says it decided to donate the food as part of its ‘Year of Zayed’ initiative and wider sustainability and corporate social responsibility efforts. The Year of Zayed celebrates the UAE’s founding father, the late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan who is credited with transforming the Gulf country from a backwater known for Pearl diving into the rich and modern State its become.
“This drive is guided by the values and legacy of our late founding father Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan. He inspires and motivates us to share and give back to the communities we are living and operating in,” explained Etihad’s Senior Vice President, Khaled AlMehairbi.
“We are strongly committed to the local community and proudly support various charities worldwide. Etihad is always looking at new ways to extend the reach of our charitable and humanitarian efforts.”
Food will be prepared as normal by Etihad’s in-house catering team at Abu Dhabi International Airport and then transported in a purpose-designed truck. The Red Crescent will be providing a fully equipped kitchen to heat and serve the meals to labourers on-site. The food will come from all cabin classes – including First Class.
Earlier this month, Etihad also launched its “Giant Suitcase” initiative – asking travellers to donate one item of clothing that would then go to charity. The initiative comes on the back of research which found 75% of travellers admit to overpacking for their holidays. The Giant Suitcase will be accepting donations at Abu Dhabi airport throughout the month of Ramadan.
Mateusz Maszczynski honed his skills as an international flight attendant at the most prominent airline in the Middle East and has been flying throughout the COVID-19 pandemic for a well-known European airline. Matt is passionate about the aviation industry and has become an expert in passenger experience and human-centric stories. Always keeping an ear close to the ground, Matt's industry insights, analysis and news coverage is frequently relied upon by some of the biggest names in journalism.