In recent weeks, the LSG Group has been involved in bringing thousands of vacationers back to Germany, Switzerland and Belgium. The catering for the repatriation flights of Lufthansa, Edelweiss Air and Brussels Airlines was provided by LSG Sky Chefs operations in four locations and required not only flexibility and organizational talent from the responsible colleagues, but extraordinary work processes too.
By the mid of April, LSG Sky Chefs loaded 86 flights in Frankfurt, 40 flights in Munich, 23 flights in Zurich, 22 flights in Brussels and, wherever possible, at destinations around the world with the help of outstations. As of yet, the Lufthansa Group airlines operated about 450 special connections from Germany, Austria, Switzerland and Belgium on behalf of governments as well as travel and cruise operators.
In contrast to regular flights, the aircraft left the departure airport without passengers on board and therefore only with catering for the crew and the return flight. In some cases, however, passengers flying back to their home countries were boarded at short notice for the outbound flight – in which case the catering had to be adjusted.
“Scheduling flights at short notice was a challenge for us, but thanks to the excellent coordination with customers and the extraordinary dedication of our operations, we have mastered it,” says Binoj Sebastian, Head of Sales Europe at LSG Group. “Sometimes we only had one day’s notice to organize the catering. This could only work in close coordination with the respective airlines. Additionally, there were spontaneous decisions or events that have nothing to do with the Corona crisis, such as the recent cyclone in the South Pacific.
Some destinations in the repatriation flight plan were far away and provided hitherto unfamiliar long-haul connections. “If you’re going to Auckland, Christchurch or Manila, you need extremely long-lasting meals – especially in the case of a layover,” says Christine Hiebel, Director Global Key Account at LSG Group. “It was not always possible to implement additional catering on site. The local business might have been closed down, for example.”