While airline catering has been one of the biggest casualties of coronavirus, in the UAE, at least one kitchen is buzzing with activity. In a press release issued on Sunday, Etihad Airways said its catering arm has been commissioned by several parties to provide meals to people who have been affected by the corona-crisis.
Meals to isolated people and health workers
Etihad Airport Services Catering said in a statement that despite the huge disruption to commercial flights, it has been cooking over 15,000 meals per day. On an average pre-corona day, this number would be around four times as many.
EAS catering said it had been commissioned by various government entities, business organizations, and community centers. The meals have been delivered to people who are affected by the corona-crisis in various ways. They may be self-isolating, under quarantine, or front-line medical staff. Food is also delivered in humanitarian drives, and to various businesses across Abu Dhabi.
“The capabilities of EAS Catering’s in-house food laboratory means we have direct oversight on the effectiveness of COVID-19 safety measures. We increased microbiological swabbing of surfaces and hands in order to validate disinfection and hand washing efforts, which are direct indicators of virus viability,” said Andrew Caines, General Manager, EAS Catering.
Thermal imaging upon arrival
Etihad said its catering services were chosen due to its stringent food handling procedures and checks. It is one of the only facilities in the UAE to have achieved ISO 17025 accreditation, a rigorous set of requirements used by laboratories to prove that they operate with a certain level of management and technical competence.
The catering facilities have a round-the-clock disinfection team for all high touch points. It has also restricted access to all non-essential persons to the premises. Furthermore, it has installed thermal imaging stations at all entrances to make sure that everyone, from employees to suppliers, are screened when they arrive.
Amenities for Etihad staff
The EAS catering team is also delivering amenities and providing laundry services to Etihad employees living in temporary isolation in Masdar City, the eco-friendly experimental suburb close by Abu Dhabi International Airport. These include loadmasters, cargo agents, pilots and cabin crew, all remaining in active service for cargo operations and repatriation flights.
Etihad Airways crew that live in company-provided accommodation are also receiving meal delivery services free of charge.
Other airline staff helping out
The EAS catering staff are not the only otherwise idle aviation business workers to be requested to join in the efforts against the impacts of coronavirus. With the assistance of a foundation, Scandinavian Airlines cabin crew are training in basic nursing skills, so that they can help relieve much-overworked hospital staff.
In the UK, Virgin Atlantic and budget carrier easyJet have asked their staff to do the same, with support from the British government. The NHS has enlisted the airlines’ cabin crew to help out at the temporary 4,000-bed Nightingale Hospital in London, and intend to train more for planned facilities in Manchester and Birmingham.
Do you have any thoughts on how else airport facilities or airline crew could be deployed to assist during these times? Who do you think should foot the bill? Let us know in the comments.