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In-flight Catering Services Market – Long-haul Airlines to Offer Long-term Growth Opportunities

Airline companies operating amid stiff competition travail towards ameliorating the delight of travelers by differentiating their in-flight experience from their competitors. On similar lines, airlines are expending great efforts towards upgrading their in-flight catering services to match the evolving food preferences of passengers, particularly given their increasing intelligence apropos of health and nutrition.

The millennial population can be deemed as the key demography of the in-flight catering services market, on account of their discretionary spending and increasing domestic and overseas travelling activities. Shifting paradigms of passengers from complimentary to à la carte meals have surfaced an opportunity for low-cost airlines to create a predilection of passengers for paid meals with exhaustive menus.

With the drumbeat of digitalization, airline create synergies with software firms for developing pre-ordering systems for the added value of 'convenience' in their features list for passengers. Sensing the growth potential of the in-flight catering services market, Transparency Market Research (TMR), in its recent report, offers precise demand forecasting for the period of 2019-2027, which incites the strategic thinking of stakeholders and navigates them towards business expansion.

in flight catering market strategy

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Assessing the Evolution of the In-flight Catering Services Market

The in-flight catering services market has been spectating continuous transmutation, given the influence of macro trends - growing spread of urban sprawl and globalization - as well as micro trends – increasing expectations of passengers for high-quality food on-board. As per the findings of our seasoned analysts, the in-flight catering services market registered a value of ~ US$ 18 billion in 2018, and is likely to record a CAGR of ~ 5% during the forecast period.

With the increase in air traffic, airline companies are likely to witness incremental growth opportunities in the coming years. As a result of increasing rates of rail and road transportation, coupled with demanding lifestyles, 'time' becomes a crucial factor for passengers who opt for air travel, which has expanded the current scope of operation for in-flight catering service providers.

Currently witnessing a phase of dawn, the on-demand business model has been advancing towards a phase of disruption, and has taken in-flight catering services by storm by offering utmost convenience to passengers for pre-ordering a meal of their choice from the options available. However, lack of diversity of food choices remains a key challenge for airlines and catering companies to tackle, in order to attract high volume sales.

Europe to Propel the Lucrative Movement of the In-flight Catering Services Market

As airlines are under constant cost-cutting pressure, the quality of catering service and food remains of paramount importance, since it directly narrows down to an enhanced flight experience. This has incited a rise in the number of hotel-airline partnerships, on account of which, outsourced catering services have been finding huge appreciation in the airline industry. Currently, outsourced catering services occupy ~ 48% of the in-flight catering services market. However, small caterers have been spectating exponential improvements in their employment rates, as they align with the cost-cutting ideology of airline companies.

Since the quality of food makes or breaks a catering company’s brand image, the large demography of health-driven individuals and a drastic shift towards balanced diets are likely to catapult the drive of the European in-flight catering services market into lucrative lanes. However, the impressive scramble of the market in Asia Pacific can be attributed to high growth achieved by the aviation industry in the region, coupled with the widening air traveler base in the region.

Given the surge in tourism activities, business events, and global connectivity, long-haul flights are likely to remain the key revenue-generating pocket for the in-flight catering services market. In addition, increasing number of non-stop flights – as a robust strategy for airline business expansion – is likely to bring an epochal scale of transformation in the in-flight catering services market, with increased competition intensity.

in flight catering market europe

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Winning Strategies to Record New Business Highs in the In-flight Catering Services Market

Limited availability of food options and high costs are the key challenges that hold passengers back from spending on food during air travel. However, as diversity drives consumer attention and retention, service providers can focus on diversified and well-balanced menus to attract a large passenger base.

A majority of airline companies serve only fast food items such as sandwiches, toast, noodles, etc., which could fail to meet the expectations of health-conscious passengers. Besides, consumers all across the world are fast responding to the emerging trends of veganism, which surfaces an opportunity for service providers to differentiate their offerings with vegan food options to be able to cater to a wide pool of passengers.

Though the main course remains a preferred meal for long-haul air travelers, breakfast food caters to both, short-haul and long-haul airlines, thereby contributing exponentially to the in-flight catering services market. Service providers can capitalize on passengers’ predilection for breakfast by bringing some variation in taste, offering food and beverage combos, and cutting down the price of these meals.

In-flight Catering Services Market Operating Under a Degree of Fragmentation

Global and regional players have loyal client bases, which fuels up the intensity level of the competition prevailing in the in-flight catering landscape. These players encounter a low threat of new entrants, as entry into the market calls for high capital investments.

Leading players concentrate on inorganic growth through M&A activities to sustain themselves amidst fierce competition. For instance, Dnata recently averred that it had acquired 121 Inflight Catering, which is intended at strengthening its foothold in North America. Besides, these key players expend their efforts and investments in the direction of increasing their per-day meal production capacity. For instance, LGS Sky Chefs announced the opening of a new catering facility at Murtala Mohammed International Airport in Lagos, Nigeria, which is designed to produce up to 10,000 meals a day.

Strategies of regional players are focused more on meeting the evolving needs of passengers. For instance, Flying Food Group, LLC caters to the snack products requirement of economy, business, and first class passengers, and also produces meals with customized seals of the airline company.

in flight catering market segmentation
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Analysts’ View of the In-flight Catering Services Market

Authors of the report foresee a favorable growth scenario for the in-flight catering services market during the period of 2019-2027. As per their analysis, the popularity of in-flight catering services is likely to soar with high economic growth achieved by the aviation industry. Rise in the number of non-stop flights will broaden the passage for the inflow of revenue in the in-flight catering services market. Investments made towards economic services will offer high sales opportunities to in-flight catering businesses as compared to premium services. Service providers can lower their profit margins and offer varieties in breakfast meals to attract more number of passengers. Asia Pacific will offer high returns on investment, as the region spectates a growing number of air travelers and advancements in the aviation industry. However, in order to win in the in-flight catering services market, service providers will need to rework on their existing menu cards, to add varieties for meeting the evolving needs of passengers.

  • According to Transparency Market Research’s latest market report on the in-flight catering services market for the period of 2017–2027 (wherein, 2019 to 2027 is the forecast period, 2018 is the base year, and 2017 is the historic year), increasing number of global air passengers enhancing air traffic, and passengers demanding high quality meals, are anticipated to boost the demand for in-flight catering services.
  • In the report, revenue generated by the in-flight catering services market is given in terms of value and volume throughout the forecast period.

Increasing Demand for High-quality and Healthy In-flight Catering Services: A Key Driver 

  • The demand for high-quality and healthy in-flight catering services while travelling is on the upsurge with the rising number of frequent flyers in the airlines industry around the world. Irrespective of the class of seating in an aircraft, the expectations of passengers regarding healthy and nutritious in-flight catering meals are expected to propel the growth of the global in-flight catering services market in the coming years.
  • Healthy, nutritious, and low-calorie meals are among the most requested by health-conscious passengers during their air travel. Their willingness to pay more for premium in-flight catering services is expected to boost the global in-flight catering services market during the forecast period.

Limitations in Variety of In-flight Catering Services a Major Challenge to Market Growth

  • A prime barrier in the global in-flight catering services market is the high cost per meal, and the limited purchasing ability of middle-class and lower-middle-class individuals. Passengers travelling by air try not to opt for in-flight food since the price of the food is almost ten times higher than that on the ground. For example, a bottle of water which costs 40 cents in a supermarket costs up to US$ 3.0 in a budget airline, which is almost a 650 percent mark-up. Furthermore, cold drinks on flights also see a 550 percent mark-up as compared to their prices in supermarkets.
  • Additionally, limited food options are available on flights, as a number of passengers who travel on a plane prefer eating healthy, such as organic food. Airlines majorly offer fast food such as burgers or sandwiches to passengers, which are not preferred by a significant percentage of air travelers.
  • Moreover, all across the globe, the preferred food of flyers is difficult to be accommodated on short notice. In-flight catering orders should be placed 48 hours before the journey, and 24 hours should be allowed for revisions, which is time-consuming and not flyer-friendly, thus expected to hinder the global in-flight catering services market during the forecast years.

In-flight Catering Services Market: Competition Landscape

  • Detailed profiles of players active in the in-flight catering services market have been provided in the report to evaluate their financials, key product offerings, recent developments, and strategies.

Key players operating in the global in-flight catering services market include

  • ALSG Sky Chefs Inc.
  • Frankenberg GmbH
  • AAS Catering CO. Ltd.
  • Dnata
  • Do & Co Aktiengesellschaft
  • Flying Food Group
  • LLC, Gate Gourmet
  • Newrest Group International S.A.S
  • SATS Ltd.
  • Air Culinaire Worldwide, LLC.

In-flight Catering Services Market: Key Developments

  • Key manufacturers in the in-flight catering services market, such as Dnata, are focusing on acquisitions for their business expansion.
  • In line with this, in December 2018, the company acquired New York-based in-flight and VIP caterer, 121 Inflight Catering. This acquisition allows Dnata to significantly expand its operations in the U.S., further strengthening its global network of catering businesses.
  • Similarly, in August 2018, it acquired Germany-based tour operator, Tropo. This acquisition marks Dnata’s entry into the German market, and extends its global network of travel businesses in Europe, the Middle East, Asia, and Australasia.

Some other key developments in the in-flight catering services market:

  • In April 2019, RRJ Capital agreed to purchase all outstanding shares in airline catering and on board retail provider, Gategroup, from HNA Group.
  • In March 2019, London Stansted Airport teamed up with luxury food outlet, Not Always Caviar, to create a sandwich designed with flavors that are enhanced at altitude, meaning, this sandwich will taste as good at 35,000 ft. as it does on the ground.
  • In 2018, British Airways unveiled a brand new menu for economy passengers - a four-course meal - to retain passengers and attract new ones.
  • In 2017, WestJet started outsourcing its in-flight food services, which has changed the way the airline provides its onboard food service. LSG Group is deeply involved in helping develop these new services, wherein, the company is improving services such as meals adapted to each customer, and newly designed tableware at low cost.

Transparency Market Research (TMR), in its recent study, brings to the fore the key growth prospects present in the in-flight catering services market over the course of the forecast period for 2019-2027, wherein, 2018 is the base year and 2017 is the historic period. The global study traces the significant trends and notable developments observed in the in-flight catering services landscape. In addition to this, it offers actionable intelligence about the in-flight catering services market by assessing the significant drivers, restraints, threats, and opportunities.

This exclusive guide lends an incisive outlook on the demand and supply chain, which offers crucial information pertaining to the balance of demand-supply in the in-flight catering services market. The global study includes macroeconomic and microeconomic factors that help in understanding the growth potential of the in-flight catering services market over the course of the forecast period.

Market size has been estimated in terms of value (US$ Mn) and volume (Million Units). Information included in the study will aid stakeholders of the in-flight catering services market in determining key opportunities for the advancement of their businesses. This detailed guide highlights the significant players operating in the in-flight catering services market. The detailed report provides a comprehensive overview of the market players, along with their strategies, financials, and notable developments.

In-flight Catering Services Market – Key Questions Answered

The study on the in-flight catering services market encapsulates an overview, offering distinguished insights into the growth prospects during the forecast period. This exclusive report offers salient answers to the key questions concerning the stakeholders of the market. Some of the key questions answered in the report comprise:

  • What is the in-flight catering demand scenario in terms of value and volume?
  • What are the relevant drivers impacting the growth of the in-flight catering services market?
  • How will the in-flight catering services market evolve during the forecast period?
  • What are the key challenges and threats restraining the growth of the in-flight catering services market?
  • What are the macroeconomic factors that are impacting the growth of the in-flight catering services market?
  • Which offering segment will remain the key contributor in terms of value and volume?

In-flight Catering Services Market – Research Methodology

In order to compile this report, a robust research methodology has been employed. Our seasoned analysts conduct both, primary as well as secondary research, in order to obtain key insights into the market. For conducting primary research, key opinion leaders, industry experts, manufacturers, distributors, and business heads were interviewed. In order to conduct secondary research, company annual reports, press releases, publications, and financial reports were referred to.

In-flight Catering Services Market – Segmentation

This exclusive study on the in-flight catering services market provides a detailed assessment of the market attractiveness by analyzing the key segments. The global study also includes a country-wise analysis in order to understand the demand and supply ratio of the in-flight catering services market.

Each of these segments have been included and studied in a comprehensive manner in order to acquire key intelligence on the in-flight catering services market. The guide on the in-flight catering services market provides historical, current, and futuristic trends molding the growth of the segment, in particular, and of the market, in general. In addition to this, it covers value chain analysis, Y-o-Y growth analysis, and supply chain analysis. The report offers analysis on the basis of offering, provider, catering service type, service type, airline, flight, and region.


Main Course


Starters & Platters




Culinary Only Providers

Culinary & On-board Supplies Providers

Complete Solution Providers

Catering Service Type



  • LCC
  • Traditional Airlines


Small Caterers

Service Type

Premium Service

Economic Service


Low Cost Carriers

Traditional Airlines


Short Haul

Long Haul


North America


Asia Pacific

Middle East & Africa

South America

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In Flight Catering Market