With Finnair forced to ‘trim’ back its flight schedules all the way through to at least Spring 2021, the airline has come up with a new idea to make money and has put its in-house catering team to work producing ready meals inspired by its in-flight Business Class menu. Taste of Finnair, as the project is known, is initially just available in one local supermarket but it could soon be rolled out across Finland and further afield.
“The quality of the food is really something that we are proud of,” Marika Nieminen, vice president of Finnair Kitchen says of the new ready meals. The contemporary Nordic offerings with slight Japenese influences cost €12.90 for a main course, while appetisers are just €5.90.
Importantly, the project has already allowed Finnair to bring 10 employees back to work and more could follow if it proves a hit. Initially, however, the ready meals will only be available from one K-Citymarket store in the Tammisto neighbourhood of Vantaa – chosen for its proximity to Finnair’s catering facility.
Some of the meals on offer include pre-packaged reindeer meatballs, smoked char and chanterelle risotto, although the plan is to change the menu every two weeks. Appetisers will only be available to buy at weekends.
Finnair first tried out the concept on employees and after it proved a hit the team approached K-Citymarket. The supermarket chain has stores right across Finland, meaning there’s huge potential to roll out the ready meals on a mass scale.
The airline’s catering facilities have been sitting largely idle since the COVID-19 pandemic decimated the aviation industry and the outlook for Finnair over the winter season doesn’t look promising.
Ole Orvér, Finnair’s chief operating officer warned earlier this month that the Corona crisis was continuing to have a “heavy impact” on the demand for air travel. The airline now only plans to serve 51 destinations in Europe and Asia over the winter season and most of Finnair’s staff remain on unpaid leave.
Of course, Finnair certainly isn’t alone in putting its catering facilities to use even if there aren’t any flights to actually cater. Thai Airways has opened up a pop-up restaurant at its headquarters in Bangkok, while Singapore Airlines will serve meals on its grounded Airbus A380 to eager punters who snapped up every available reservation in just 30 minutes.
Meanwhile, Air Asia plans to dramatically expand its Santas restaurant chain that sells inflight food on the ground. The low-cost airline opened its first branch in Kuala Lumpur in December 2019 and it proved such a hit that there are now plans to open over 100 branches within the next two years.
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.