As a response to the Covid-19 pandemic, and as an attempt to create both marketing awareness and a new revenue stream, China Eastern Airlines was issued with a certificate that allows the local carrier to sell its in-fight and VIP lounge meals outside the city's airports.
The airline requested, and after review, was presented with a food manufacturing certificate to Eastern Air Catering so that its products can be sold at local supermarkets or restaurants.
Eastern Air Catering has been supplying inflight meals to many Chinese and Asian Pacific airlines since the 1980’s, with 80% of the meals for flights at Shanghai's Pudong and Hongqiao airports made by the company. Prior to the pandemic, it was serving about 140,000 meals for China Eastern and other carriers daily.
However, since the coronavirus outbreak, domestic Chinese airlines, which had served in-flight meals that include rice or noodles, have simplified their meals in the air to prevent the spread of the virus. Currently, meals with rice or noodles have been replaced by bread or other packaged snacks.
In order to lessen the impact of the pandemic and expand its business, staff of Eastern Air Catering suggested to management that it shift its service from air to the ground, as a means to create brand awareness for the airline and a new source of revenue for the company.
After receiving the food certificate, Eastern Air Catering also become the first Chinese company with food certificates from the customs and the market supervision authority. Previously, the company’s Shanghai Customs certificate allowed it to operate within the city's Pudong and Hongqiao airports as well as on domestic and international flights.
To meet new standards, the food company said it had renovated its manufacturing workshop, streamlined its cooking process, purchased new equipment and launch training for its chefs and employees. Its first batch of products includes noodles that are served in the airline's VIP lounge as well as a variety of other vacuum-packed meals.