INFLIGHT CATERING

SWISS partners with Too Good To Go to sell leftover food on last flights of the day

This article earlier appeared as Innovation of the Day on TrendWatching

If food loss and waste was a country, it would be the third-largest emitter of greenhouse gases, following China and the US, according to the World Resources Institute.

Which is why brands in all industries are seeking practical solutions to avoid food waste from occurring. And when they can’t, to divert it from regular refuse streams.

Try as they might to avoid food waste by matching supplies with passenger demand, as long as airlines serve foods on flights, there will be leftovers. To tackle that issue, SWISS is now partnering with Too Good To Go. SWISS earlier this year introduced paid F&B inflight on all its short-haul routes as part of a Lufthansa Group-wide initiative.

On the last flights of the day, all leftover fresh food items are divvied up into paper bags and offered to passengers on board, for a third of the usual price. Like most of the ‘magic bags’ offered on Too Good To Go’s platform, customers don’t know exactly what they’ll be getting. SWISS is trialling the project on European flights from Geneva, through the end of September.

Of course, selling leftovers only works if passengers want to eat them once they’ve left the plane. Since SWISS consistently gets high marks for its inflight meals, consumers are more likely to welcome the opportunity to grab a midnight snack or next day’s lunch on their way out.

While SWISS is offering passengers leftovers through Too Good To Go – Munich Airport also joined forces with the anti-food waste platform in 2018 – Japan Airlines recently announced that by 2025, it will be composting 100% of unused meals for use as fertilizer.

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Airlines are rewarding passengers who bring-their-own cup


Images by @all_things_H20 and Flight Report

“The paper coffee cup has long been a timestamp of the morning, a symbol of a certain kind of harried success.” This ‘sign of the times’ quote by food and dining platform Eater gives a good indication of our ‘to go’ lifestyle, but also how our perception of status is constantly changing.

As the vast majority of these disposable cups can’t be recycled, due to their polyethylene lining, coffee stores and F&B outlets have started to encourage customers to bring their own cup instead. What started as a niche behaviour by consumers who are looking for ways to consume more ‘guilt-free’, the bring-your-own-cup (BYOC) movement rapidly caught on in Anglo-Saxon countries like the US, UK, Australia, and New Zealand.

And as the ‘war on waste’ is becoming mainstream, chains such as Starbucks, Costa Coffee, Pret a Manger, and McDonalds now also offer a discount to customers who bring their own cup. Read full article »

Emirates crew use smartphones to take Business Class passengers’ F&B orders


images by PaddleYourOwnKanoo

Staff taking drink and meal orders using a digital device is a common thing in bars and restaurants around the world. Meanwhile, casual dining restaurant chains and airport F&B operators now let customers place their orders themselves, either via a tablet provided by the restaurant or via an app on their own smartphone.

Now the airline industry is taking its first steps in this digitally-enabled F&B service. Besides the handful or airlines – including Air New Zealand, Japan Airlines, FlyDubai and Virgin America – that allow passengers to place orders via the in-seat IFE system, Emirates has recently issued so-called ‘Meal Ordering Devices’ to all its flight attendants who work in Business Class.

Meal Ordering Device (MOD)
Cabin crew recruitment portal PaddleYourOwnKanoo reports that the MOD smartphones connect to a plug-and-play WiFi router which is separate from the onboard connectivity system that passengers use.

All the smartphones (Samsung Galaxy A7) are synced to communicate with one another for the duration of the flight, don’t have a SIM card, and have been blocked from running any applications apart from the bespoke Meal Ordering app.

“The orders are taken on a hand held device and are instantly reflected on a tablet in the galley. Each order is then prepared immediately making service faster, more efficient and more personal,” said Terry Daly, Divisional Senior Vice President, Service Delivery at Emirates.

As Australian Business Traveller rightly puts it: “With as many as 76 business class passengers on an Emirates A380, the technology is proving to be a significant time-saver in keeping those premium passengers feed and watered – as well as ensuring what they’re served is precisely what they ordered, without slip-ups.” Read full article »

Air France and star chef Joël Robuchon partner with Foodora to promote their cuisine

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As the flag carrier of a country that prides itself on its culinary excellence, Air France in the past years has been creative in promoting its onboard cuisine.

Besides partnering with many Michelin star chefs (like many carriers do), the airline regularly invites a chef to join a flight to personally introduce a new menu to passengers in Business and First.

A few years ago, Air France also toured with a food truck around Manhattan handing out free samples of its inflight meals to the public.

Now, in an ‘on trend’ initiative that builds upon the popularity of food delivery services such as Foodora, Deliveroo, GrubHub and Uber EATS, Air France has launching the ‘Bon Appétit’ campaign in Montreal.

To coincide with the grand opening of his new L’Atelier de Joël Robuchon restaurant in Montreal, Joël Robuchon – known as the chef with the most Michelin stars in the world –  has partnered with Air France and delivery app Foodora to give Montreal residents the chance to have a free three course meal delivered directly to their homes.

The offer runs from 9 to 15 December 2016 and each day 10 menus are made available via Foodora. Those who want to order the gourmet menu have to use a discount code (BONAPPETIT) to have the 3 course meal – which is priced at CAD 95 – delivered for free. All dishes are prepared in the chef’s new restaurant which opened to the public on 7 December. Read full article »

Brazil’s Azul partners with São Paulo food truck for new onboard menu

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By Raymond Kollau, airlinetrends.com

From its California origins, the food-truck phenomenon has exploded in cities across the world, evolving from chip stands into quality gourmet food.

Tapping into the food truck trend, about half a dozen airlines –  including Air France, Lufthansa, Austrian, Delta, United and Korean Air – in the past few years have sent their own branded gourmet food truck around the streets of cities around the USA as a means of promoting their on-board catering services.

And in order to promote the restaurants and cafes present at the Stockholm Arlanda,  the Arlanda Food Truck toured around Stockholm during the fall of 2013.

Azul x Buzina Food Truck
Now, Brazil’s Azul Airlines – known for its innovative products and services – has flipped the airline food truck concept by teaming up with Sao Paulo’s popular Buzina Food Truck to serve the food truck’s fare onboard (video here).

Starting this July, passengers in all classes onboard Azul’s A330s from Sao Paulo on routes to the United States and Portugal will be served menus designed by the Buzina food truck chefs and adapted to fly by LSG Sky Chefs. The onboard menu choices include Buzina staples like macaroni and cheese in Economy and artisan cheeseburgers in Business. Read full article »

Airlines and airports let passengers pre-order food via mobile apps

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This article also appeared in the December/January 2016 edition of Onboard Hospitality Magazine.

By Raymond Kollau, airlinetrends.com

Consumer behavior is changing. Smartphones make it quick and hassle-free to order goods online, or flag a taxi via Uber. This always-on, on-demand economy has generated a sense of entitlement to fast, simple, and efficient experiences as it taps into consumers’ appetite for greater convenience, speed, and simplicity. For example, analysis from Uber shows the longer Uber has been in a city, the less willing to wait for a car everyone becomes.

In the food and beverage industry, ordering and paying for food and beverages via tablet devices has become the new normal at casual dining chains such as Applebees and Chili’s across the USA, while airport restaurateur OTG has installed thousands of food-ordering iPads at half a dozen U.S. airports.

And a growing number of airlines – including Virgin America, Air New Zealand, Norwegian, Azul and Finnair – allow passengers to order meals, snacks and drinks via the IFE system in between regular meal services, while passengers onboard leisure carrier TUI Netherlands can order drinks and duty free via their own smartphone.

Skipping the queue
Saving consumers even more time, Starbucks this fall rolled out an order-ahead mobile application across all of its 7,000 stores in the USA, as well as across 150 Starbucks locations in London. As soon as people have ordered, the app gives them an approximate pickup time, and Starbucks estimates customers can save between 10 and 15 minutes using this option. A similar service is being tested by fast food chains McDonalds and Wendy’s.

At multiple airports in the USA, passenger can pre-order meals from airport restaurants, using mobile apps such as Grab, AirGrub and HMS Hosts’ B4 You Board, which saves them having to queue up for food and drinks, and provides some peace of mind for those who are running late for their flight.

Passengers using these pre-order apps select an airport restaurant, place an order, pay and schedule a time to pick up their meal. When they arrive at the restaurant in the departure hall the freshly made meal is waiting to be collected. Orders can be placed days in advance, or even when passengers are queuing at the security checkpoint. Read full article »

TUI first airline to let passengers order food, beverages, duty free via their own devices

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Images from MI Airline. Arke’s ‘TUI Cloud’ is branded in the airline’s colours

By Raymond Kollau, airlinetrends.com

Earlier this year we reported on MI Airline’s AirFi box – a portable, battery-powered and self-scaling wireless local network. The AirFi solution is based around a small box which can be stowed in a luggage locker – instead of having to be installed in the aircraft, hence no certification is needed.

Launch customers of the AirFi box are Estonian Air, Transavia and Arke (part of tour operator TUI) – who are using the portable wifi network for inflight entertainment, and/or to connect the tablet devices of cabin crew.

TUI Cloud
Netherlands-based leisure carrier Arke – which later this year will be rebranded as TUI – has installed the AirFi box onboard its fleet of 3 B787, 1 B767 and 5 B737 aircraft for wireless entertainment purposes. The service is branded as ‘TUI Cloud’ and allows passengers to use their own devices to watch video content, read newspapers and play games.

Arke’s managing director Hans van de Velde tells TravConnect that the wireless service is appreciated by passengers. For example, on some flights 40 percent of passengers is reading De Telegraaf (the largest newspaper in the Netherlands) via TUI Cloud and the airline is considering not to carry the paper edition of the newspaper anymore.

According to Arke, the content and functionality of ‘TUI Cloud’ will be expanded with e-books, magazines (in partnership with publisher Sanoma) and newsfeeds in the coming months.

Ordering drinks, snacks and duty free
Arke is also the first airline in the world to let passengers order food, snacks and duty free items via their own devices for delivery to their seats. The airline is currently trialing the on-demand service on a select number of long-haul and short-haul routes. Read full article »

Airlines let food trucks do the promotion

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This case appears in the October 2014 edition of the Airline Marketing Benchmark, a monthly report by airlinetrends.com and Simpliflying that identifies the latest innovative marketing campaigns recently launched by airlines around the world. Learn more »

Food trucks are a hot phenomenon these days, evolving from chip stands into quality gourmet food on the go. As experiencing the products and services offered onboard has become an effective marketing tool for airlines to engage savvy consumers, a handful of airlines have capitalized on the food truck trend for marketing purposes.

For more on how airlines are using their onboard catering to engage the general public, see our contribution to this New York Times article “Ground-Level Tastings of the Best Food in the Sky.”

Air France, Austrian, Delta, United, Stockholm Arlanda Airport
For example, in March 2011 Air France sent their own gourmet food truck around the streets of New York City as a means of promoting their on-board catering services. The Air France truck featured dishes by Michelin Star Chef Joël Robuchon and was stationed at locations that were announced via Twitter and Facebook.

On a similar note, nearly a year prior to Air France’s food truck debut, Austrian’s coffee truck toured the streets of NYC as well. Austrian’s initiative was centred around its direct flights to Vienna, and the coffee service was a homage to traditional Viennese coffee and was distributed freely.

Also on the food truck and aviation roster in NYC was Delta Air Lines, who served hot cocoa, while United Airlines promoted the launch of a new route from San Francisco to Taipei this May by partnering with Taiwanese food truck Mamaliu to offer San Franciscans free lunches courtesy of United during a week.

The first airport to use a food truck to promote the restaurants and cafes present at the airport has been Stockholm Arlanda, which sent the Arlanda Food Truck around Stockholm during the fall of 2013. Read full article »

Heathrow Airport launches ‘onboard picnic’ service, offering F&B from 118 outlets

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By Raymond Kollau, airlinetrends.com

Realizing that a segment of passengers in Economy is willing to spend a bit more money in order to have a proper meal when flying, about ten full-service carriers around the world currently offer passengers in Economy the option to upgrade their meal for a fee, mostly on long-haul routes.

Austrian Airlines’ catering partner Do&Co has even opened a last-minute ordering desk at Vienna Airport where passengers can pre-order their meal up to just one hour before the departure of their flight.

Onboard picnic
Looking to take a (small) piece of the revenues that airlines generated with their buy-on-board F&B offerings, London Heathrow Airport has introduced a buy-before-you board initiative that offers passengers an ‘on-board picnic’ dining option where they can bring a bespoke ‘hamper’ (British for a meal takeaway box) with them on their flight.

The Daily Mail reports that the move from Heathrow comes after figures reveal about 20 per cent of passengers snub plane food, bringing their own airport-bought snacks on board a flight instead. A survey by the airport also showed that 70 percent of (British) passengers want flexibility about when they eat during their flight.

Available from all restaurants at Heathrow
Introduced by Gordon Ramsey’s Plane Food at Heathrow T5 a few years ago – and expanded earlier this year to some 70 restaurants – the service is now available at all of Heathrow’s 118 restaurants across its five terminals, which range from from chain cafés such as Pret a Manger and EAT, to restaurants including Heston Blumenthal’s The Perfectionist Café and Gordon Ramsay’s Plane Food, as well as Caviar House and The Gorgeous Kitchen. Read full article »

India’s low-cost carriers get creative with their buy-on-board food packaging

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By Raymond Kollau, airlinetrends.com

Along with basic objectives such as protection, preservation and convenience, attractive and fun packaging appeals to consumers’ emotions and brings a product alive, while clever packaging can also convince consumers to try something new just because of the way it looks.

As airlines are starting to approach the passenger experience in a more holistic way, they are also starting to pay attention to details such as the packaging of meals and drinks as an extension of their brand.

Or as Travel + Leisure magazine put it recently: “From hyper-local delicacies to iconic sweets, the best in-flight snacks deliver a sense of place, express an airline’s personality—and make a tasty souvenir.”

Adds Nikos Loukas of airline food website InflightFeed, “Airline food packaging needs to be fun and engage the customer during the meal service, it gives them something to think about but can also work as inflight entertainment.”

Two great examples of attractive and fun food packaging can be found in India, where low-cost carriers JetKonnect and IndiGo have come up with quirky buy-on-board ranges.

JetKonnect
Mumbai-based JetKonnect, the low-cost subsidiairy of Jet Airways, has hired local ad agency Grandmother to make plane food something passengers might actually want to eat, via fun packaging that features Indian touches.

Each item on the buy-on-board menu tells a different story of the ‘love’ for food. For example, the packaging of the savoury pastry samosas is the tale of ‘Sam’ meeting ‘Hosa’, while a tin of nuts features ‘Dr. Nutman.’ The cookie packet is an ode to a robber, and features the words ‘chor-police’ (robber-cop in Hindi). Stories featuring each of the characters are printed on the colorful packets.

According to Grandmother, JetKonnect approached the agency to reinvent its entire line of on-board perishable and non-perishable products. Since the packaging system involved multiple products in different materials, the agency invented a story that would tie all products into one umbrella story that would engage, educate and inform, all the while making food fun and and enjoyable.

Or as Grandmother puts it: “Value is being surprised and delighted when you least expect it. Why should packaging be static? Why can’t it be a story in itself? Can it make someone read before grabbing a bite?”
Read full article »

South African LCC kulula partners with Unilever to surprise passengers with free meal

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By Raymond Kollau, airlinetrends.com

It is a well-known fact that the reason airplane food is often bland or boring is partly due to the pressurized airplane environment and the cool, dry cabin air, which dulls passengers’ tastebuds and leaves them with a muted perception of salty and sweet.

Kulula.com x Robertsons ‘SkyDine’
Combining several onboard hospitality trends – such as the growing number of airlines that organize ‘micro-events’ up in the air in order to put an original twist to the flight, the rise of brand collaborations to improve the passenger experience, and the popularity of generosity as a marketing tactic – South African LCC kulula.com and Unilever-owned Robertsons Herbs and Spices recently surprised unsuspecting kulula.com passengers on flights from Johannesburg to Cape Town with a three-course fine dining experience courtesy of Robertsons Spices.

On March 5th,  bloggers and food journalists from Cape Town and Johannesburg were invited by kulula.com to a surprise flight to Johannesburg, and on the return flight to Cape Town, South African celebrity chef and MasterChef South Africa judge Reuben Riffel introduced the surprise three-course meal which he had designed, and which was prepared by airline catering company Foodirections.

Riffel introduced his 3-course menu, emphasising that the flavours had to be stronger, due to the 35000 feet height at which the meal was eaten. The starter was a feta and leek tartlet; the main course a pistachio and black pepper crusted beef fillet; ended off with a dessert of ‘milk-a-roon mini sweet short crust pastry filled with cinnamon and mixed spice custard and Turkish delight’.

Three other kulula.com flights from Johannesburg to Cape Town surprised passengers with the same three-course meal. Read full article »

IndiGo lets passengers taste and vote for their favourite buy-on-board sandwich

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By Raymond Kollau, airlinetrends.com

In just a few years, low-cost carrier IndiGo has become India’s largest domestic carrier by securing nearly 30 percent of the local market.

IndiGo’s popularity with Indian passengers is based on its ‘no-frills chic’ approach towards flying. According to IndiGo President Aditya Ghosh, the airline’s philosophy is “to make travel as hassle-free as possible — low-cost but high quality — and that’s why we are popular both with budget travellers and high-level corporations.”

IndiGo has worked with agency Wieden + Kennedy building a new, cool airline brand from scratch. Besides quirky advertising, everything from the design of the safety instruction card and sickness bag, to the availability of a boarding ramp instead of a staircase, to the packaging of in-flight snacks were aimed at being more engaging. For example, IndiGo’s triangular paid-for ‘Airwich’ boxes feature interesting stories and fun illustrations to offer passengers something to read when having their meal

IndiGo ‘Food Fight’
In another innovative effort to promote its buy-on-board offering, IndiGo and Wieden + Kennedy in late 2012 organized a food tasting in the sky, dubbed #IndiGoFoodFight.

Held on a single day on IndiGo flights across major routes, over 1,000 passengers were surprised with boxes of free food samples containing the contenders for the airline’s new buy-on-board menu. Passengers were asked to vote for their favourite, with the winner making it on-board as the “Passenger’s Choice.”

Or as the airline putsit more dramatically: “It’s the ultimate showdown at 35,000 feet. From the feather-weight division we have Lemon Chicken Sub vs Curried Chicken Sub vs Chicken Jhatka. And in the veggie-weights, introducing Veg Junglee vs Tomato-hummus vs Paneer-mushroom. May the best sandwich win!”

The Veg Junglee Sandwich and Curried Chicken Sub turned out to be the clear favourites among passengers and are now featured on the IndiGo menu. A video of the event can be found here and images here.

airBaltic lets passengers customize their buy-on-board meal

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By Nikos Loukas, InflightFeed                                                                                                         article updated December 2013

Latvia-based low-cost carrier airBaltic is known for churning out attention-grabbing innovations. Along with differentiating its Business Class by serving passengers a 3-course meal based on organic, seasonal products from local Latvian farmers, freshly brewed Nespresso coffee, airBaltic has come up with a host of innovative ancillary products, a taxi and bike-sharing operation, and the airline has been one of the first to launch a ‘social seating’ service.

Mix ‘n match
To help increase revenues for their buy-on-board program, airBaltic’s latest ancillary initiative is a novel food ordering system that allows customers to customize their in-flight meal when they book their seat. During the pre-order process passengers can choose from a wide range of meal options, as well as drinks and desserts, and virtually ‘drag and drop’ their preferred meal items onto a digital airline tray, with their chosen meal served to them during the flight. The service was ‘soft launched’ in May 2013 followed by a full launch in October.

Passengers using the ‘airBalticMeal’ service can choose from a variety of more than 70 pre-order meal options onto their virtual tray, including vegetable risotto, fish souvlaki, teriyaki salmon, grilled pork or chicken breast, served with one of nine salads and one of nine types of dessert, and a drink of choice. The inflight meals can be pre-ordered during the flight booking, or any other time no later than 48 hours before departure, and hot meals are priced from EUR 7 to 12 and salads from EUR 5 to 8.

And as consumers become more conscious of what they are eating, each menu items offers nutritional information allowing passengers to make an informed inflight meal decision.

AirBaltic’s customized meal ordering system is has been developed together with LSG SkyChefs, whose facility at Riga Airport produces approximately 4,500 meals a day and who guarantees each passenger will see his or her customized meal delivered on board – if ordered at least 48 hours prior to departure.

Uptake
According to Janis Vanags, airBaltic’s VP Corporate Communications, the personalized pre-order system has generated a lot of media attention from around the world, and even before the launch of the new service the Latvia-based carrier saw levels of its existing pre-order service rise three times because of the buzz surrounding its new offer.

The airBalticMeal service has seen a positive uptake since its full launch in October because the option to personalize ones meal is simply a better product than the limited choice that was available before, says Vanags.  “We thought it would be fun and interesting for passengers to select exactly what they would like to eat before their flight.”

Airline buy-on-board catering goes local

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By Nikos Loukas, InflightFeed

Airlinetrends.com has reported earlier how Canadian low-cost carrier Westjet has differentiated its buy-on-board catering offer by partnering with local, often family-owned, restaurants across Canada for its buy-on-board catering program. Unlike many pre-packaged airline snacks, WestJet’s sandwich options offer fresh, local flavors from the city of departure.

As the number of airlines – including full-service airlines – that offer buy on board (BOB) catering increases, Westjet’s local BOB initiative is part of a trend that sees carriers looking at ways to add special touches to the paid-for menus on offer. This may go down well with the growing number of passengers that are happy to pay for a quality onboard meal or snack, instead of the cut-down complimentary offer served on many full-service carriers on short-haul routes.

Here’s a look at some ‘local BOB’ catering offers from airlines around the world.

AirAsia
AirAsia’s ‘Café’ menu features options such as chicken siew bao from popular local Malaysian brand Mr Siew Bao (RM 4; USD 1.30), as well as bubble tea from Taiwanese specialist tea maker Chatime (RM8). The airline says it hopes the popular bubble tea drink will boost its in-flight sales by two percent over the next 12 months.

Transavia
Passengers traveling with Dutch low-cost airline Transavia can choose from a range of sandwiches (EUR 4.50 to 5.00) from local producer Sanday’s. Not your typical airline sandwich, this product is made by hand on the day of departure and uses organic bread and quality ingredients (video here). In fact, InflightFeed has voted the Sanday sandwich as one of the best paid-for sandwiches in the sky.

Hawaiian Airlines
Hawaiian Airlines, meanwhile, has teamed up with local food producers to provide passengers with tastes from Hawaii. Kona Chips, a family owned business which has been around for 50 years is on the menu, along with the Kauai Kookie company and the Punalu’u Bakeshop, which all add a local element to the in-flight catering offering.
Read full article »

WestJet teams up with local restaurants across Canada to serve fresh sandwiches sourced from the city of departure

By Nikos Loukas, InflightFeed

On many flights originating in Canada, WestJet offers a little taste of home. Whether it’s a meaty Spolumbo’s sandwich from Calgary, a Thai chicken wrap from Vancouver’s Bread Garden or the smoky pastrami from Au Pain Doré in Montreal, WestJet is offering an increasing number of locally made fresh sandwiches on most flights over 2.5 hours in length. All sandwiches cost CAD 6.50 (CAD 6 when pre-ordered).

“We want to offer our guests onboard menu items that will enhance their WestJet experience and support the communities we serve,” says WestJet’s On Board Product Manager Layne Ward. “Being able to partner with local caterers to offer guests a wide variety of fresh sandwiches is ideal.”

The sandwich story all started in 2010 in Calgary with a WestJet executive’s penchant for the chewy Italian sandwiches created by three ex-Calgary Stampeders football players at the local Spolumbo’s restaurant. “They were here having lunch, talking about airplane food, and wondering why it couldn’t be more local and more fresh,” says Tony Spoletini, one of the owners of the popular Italian sausage shop and deli.

Local, fresh
The Spolumbo’s crew signed on for a test run and, when guests gobbled up their airline sandwiches, WestJet looked for entrepreneurs in other Canadian cities to expand the program. Now, fresh and unique sandwiches are loaded on board every day from caterers and delis in Victoria, Vancouver, Edmonton, Calgary, Winnipeg, Toronto, Hamilton, London, Montreal and St. John’s.
Read full article »