AirChefs, South African Airways catering arm, opens new catering facility

Dr John Tambi, Air Chefs Chairperson, and Martin Kemp, Air Chefs Acting CEO.

Dr John Tambi, Air Chefs Chairperson, and Martin Kemp, Air Chefs Acting CEO.

AirChefs, the catering arm of South African Airways, today opened a new state-of-the art catering facility at the King Shaka International Airport which promises growth opportunities in the province.

“The KwaZulu-Natal region is ideally placed for expansion and growth, with a number of international airlines now flying from Durban, and other food service companies in need of large scale catering, offering opportunities for expansion. As our current facility can no longer sufficiently support growth, it prompted the move to this brand new, bigger and more modern facility offering the potential for large-scale growth in the province,” said Martin Kemp, AirChefs Acting CEO.

The new 1 500 square-metre facility, which is about three times bigger than the facility at the old Durban International Airport, is situated close to the aircraft parking bays at King Shaka International Airport. The facility will act as a central production facility and can safely and comfortably produce up to 7 500 cooked and prepared meals a day given the current shift patterns, The facility also has the capability of producing meals, snacks and products for selected catering companies.

Air Chefs Team Extraordinaire

Air Chefs Team Extraordinaire

Also on offer for the first time out of Durban due to the increased capacity, is the capability to prepare Halaal meals at this coastal station. Previously Halaal meals were prepared in Johannesburg.

The area is equipped with a large bonded stores area, where international airline customs-approved and certified equipment and stock is held which is meant for use on board flights, and not for entry into the South African space for customer use or consumption. A bonded stores area is a key requirement of international airlines, which entrust the storage and management of their equipment and special products to their catering partner.

The new facility has been designed keeping the requirement for sustained quality standards in mind, with Hazard Analysis of Critical Control Points (HACCP) food safety programmes installed, making it easier to monitor compliance and offering clients that extra level of trust in the credibility of documented information.

The impact on the environment has also been considered with care given to state of the art equipment, which uses less water and electricity. The facility makes use of plate heat exchangers to reclaim waste heat energy from the unit. This heat is transferred to a 1000-litre pressure vessel which supplies the facility with all the hot water requirements, meaning that no geysers or heat pumps are required to operate the unit.

“AirChefs was recently awarded the ISO 22 000 food safety certification which ideally places us as a certified food manufacturer to large catering outfits that are looking for specialised and consistent quality offerings. Going forward we aim to target growth opportunities both in the airline catering sector and as a food manufacturing hub,” says Loyiso Jiyana, AirChefs GM Commercial and Key Accounts.

On 21 August, AirChefs celebrates 30 years as caterer, and was recently ranked in the Top 5 Best Managed Catering Companies in the country as chosen by the Top 500.

AirChefs also has catering facilities in Cape Town and Johannesburg, with capacity to collectively produce close to 44 000 meals a day.

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