Friday, February 19, 2021

Top flight caterer shuts shop at Delhi & Mumbai airports

New Delhi: In what could be a likely fallout of the pandemic’s devastating impact on the aviation industry, one of India’s biggest flight caterers, SkyGourmet, has shut its huge kitchens at Delhi and Mumbai airports. The two units together had about 1,300 employees. Now both the airports have three flight caterers — Tata Group’s TajSats, Oberoi Flight Services and Ambassador’s Sky Chef.

Detailed queries sent to SkyGourmet, its parent company GateGourmet, and Mumbai airport on the closure of the units remained unanswered for over two days. When the pandemic began, the SkyGourmet unit at Ahmedabad airport shut down. Currently, the only operational unit is at Hyderabad airport.

A spokesperson for Delhi International Airport Ltd (DIAL) confirmed that operations at IGI Airport were stopped on January 31. Asked if the closure was the result of business being hit by Covid-19 or other reasons like lease not being extended, DIAL said the “view on this can be taken from SkyGourmet.” However, employees said they were told the Delhi unit was being shut due to non-extension of lease.

“When operations resumed post the lockdown, we catered to the largest number of flights since last October in Delhi at nearly 200 daily. IndiGo was our biggest customer and we handled about 100 of their flights, followed by others like Air India, SpiceJet and AirAsia India. The Delhi unit had about 800 employees, some of whom were contractual,” said a stunned employee.

Now, the kitchen at IGIA is being demolished to return the leased land to the airport operator. DIAL said it was “yet to finalise the use of the vacated land”.

The Mumbai unit had about 500 employees and handled about 100 flights daily. The resumption of services had given staffers hope that like all other flight kitchens, they too would somehow survive the downturn.

19/02/21 Saurabh Sinha/Times of India

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