Emirates Flight Catering invests in vertical farm pioneer, Bustanica

Emirates Flight Catering, a global leader in aviation hospitality and one of the world’s largest catering operations, has successfully completed the acquisition of Emirates Bustanica, formerly known as Emirates Crop One.

This strategic move solidifies Emirates Bustanica as a fully UAE-owned company, aligning with the nation’s commitment to enhancing food and water security while advancing its agricultural capabilities.

Vertical farm: Bustanica quality control checks in progress

The acquisition positions Emirates Bustanica to capitalise on local expertise and cutting-edge technology, addressing the escalating demands of the market and contributing to the UAE’s vision of agricultural sustainability.

Situated near Al Maktoum International Airport at Dubai World Central, the 330,000sqft facility of Bustanica stands as the world’s largest indoor vertical farm.

With a remarkable capacity to grow over 1 million kilograms of top-quality leafy greens annually – equivalent to 3 tonnes daily – Bustanica achieves this feat while utilising 95% less water than traditional agriculture.

Under the Bustanica brand, the farm-fresh produce is widely available in major retailers across the UAE, including Spinney’s, Waitrose, Carrefour and Choithrams.

Additionally, airline passengers, including those flying with Emirates, are treated to this exceptional produce in their salads and meals.

Launched in July 2022, Bustanica has rapidly become a prominent player in UAE’s culinary landscape. The brand offers a diverse range of leafy greens, herbs, and microgreens that are designed to be consumed straight from the box. Notably, all produce is grown without pesticides or herbicides, ensuring it remains 100% clean, fresh and nutrient-rich. The selection includes various lettuce varieties, spinach, parsley, and kale.

Leafy greens: Emirates Bustanica uses a hydroponic method to grow salads

Bustanica’s success is attributed to its integration of powerful technologies such as machine learning, artificial intelligence, and patented agricultural methods.

The dedicated in-house team, comprising agronomy experts, engineers, horticulturists, and plant scientists, contributes to the brand’s commitment to excellence.

In a recent development, Emirates Bustanica earned recognition as the preferred produce supplier for COP28, underscoring its dedication to sustainability and environmental responsibility.

Emirates Flight Catering, operating the world’s largest flight catering facility at Dubai International Airport, leads the aviation hospitality sector globally.

The company provides a comprehensive range of services, including airline catering, airport dining, private dining and event catering, alongside food supplies to the HORECA and hospitality industries.

Renowned for excellence, innovation, and sustainability, Emirates Flight Catering consistently delivers exceptional culinary experiences tailored to global consumer preferences.

For information on flights on Emirates, contact your Global Travel Management Account Manager.

Virgin Atlantic announces new routes across three continents

Virgin Atlantic is expanding its global network by launching new routes to São Paulo, Brazil and Bengaluru, India, while also reintroducing flights to Dubai, Las Vegas, the Maldives, and Turks & Caicos, showcasing their commitment to serving UK-based business travellers with enhanced connectivity and state-of-the-art aircraft.

Virgin Atlantic has announced a series of exciting developments that are set to enhance the travel experiences of UK-based business travellers.

With the launch of new routes across three continents and the introduction of state-of-the-art aircraft, Virgin Atlantic is capitalising on growing demand for business travel. This expansion will offer customers more than 250,000 additional seats across the airline’s network, compared to 2019.

One of the most significant highlights is Virgin Atlantic’s foray into South America with the introduction of a brand-new daily flight from London Heathrow to São Paulo, Brazil.

São Paulo: bustling metropolis and foodie capital

São Paulo, a bustling metropolis known as the foodie capital of Brazil, offers a vibrant cultural scene and serves as a major hub for multinational businesses.

This move not only caters to corporate customers and business travellers but also provides a gateway for leisure travellers seeking enriching experiences.

Additionally, São Paulo’s position as South America’s leading import and export hub will make it a popular cargo route, facilitating trade between the UK and Brazil.

The airline’s expansion in India continues with the introduction of a new route to Bengaluru.

As Virgin Atlantic’s third destination and fourth daily service to India, Bengaluru strengthens the airline’s commitment to serving one of its fastest-growing markets.

The city, renowned for its technological advancements and thriving corporate sector, offers both business opportunities and cultural attractions for adventurous travellers.

New routes will provide seamless connectivity for customers traveling via London Heathrow to various North American destinations, courtesy of Virgin Atlantic’s joint venture partner, Delta Air Lines.

For those seeking premium winter sun destinations, Virgin Atlantic has exciting news as well. The airline will be reintroducing flights from Manchester to Las Vegas, enhancing its offering for leisure travellers in the North of England.

Furthermore, Virgin Atlantic’s return to Dubai, operating seasonally from October through March, will cater to the increasing demand for luxury getaways in sunny destinations. These routes not only accommodate passengers but also provide significant cargo capacity, facilitating trade between the Middle East and key markets in the UK and the US.

Shai Weiss: our plan is working

Demonstrating its commitment to the Caribbean region, Virgin Atlantic will introduce new inter-island flying, allowing both locals and holidaymakers to experience the joy of island hopping.

The airline’s dedication to this beautiful part of the world underlines its support for the region’s tourism industry and its commitment to providing diverse travel options for customers.

Shai Weiss, Virgin Atlantic CEO said,

We’re excited to announce a range of new routes across three continents, giving our customers the opportunity to fly in style with Virgin Atlantic. From our entrance into South America, to our expansion in India and the growth of our premium sun portfolio, there is something for all of our customers to experience.

By leveraging the power of our strategic partners, and welcoming our state of the art, brand new A350 and A339 aircraft, customers can rely on Virgin Atlantic to connect them to where they need to be, enjoying a premium customer experience, delivered by our amazing crew.

Our plan is working, positioning us to return to profitability in 2024.

A350: Virgin Atlantic has invested in one of the youngest fleets of aircraft

To support its network expansion, Virgin Atlantic is welcoming the arrival of new state-of-the-art aircraft, including the Airbus A350 and A330neo.

These aircraft not only contribute to a younger and more fuel-efficient fleet but also offer enhanced passenger experiences, with features like the reimagined Upper Class cabin and game-changing wireless charging.

By the end of 2024, the airline will have received its full order of 12 Airbus A350s and four A330neos.

The recruitment of an additional 350 cabin crew members will further strengthen the airline’s renowned customer service.

Virgin Atlantic’s dedication to sustainability is also commendable. With a commitment to achieving net-zero carbon emissions by 2050, the airline operates one of the youngest and most fuel-efficient fleets in the industry.

Over the past decade, Virgin Atlantic has reduced its absolute carbon emissions by 35%. The airline’s efforts to lead in sustainability are exemplified by its participation in an industry consortium aiming to deliver the first 100% Sustainable Aviation Fuel flight across the Atlantic.

This initiative demonstrates the potential for SAF to be safely used as a drop-in fuel within existing infrastructure, engines, and airframes, supporting the industry’s goals of reducing environmental impact.

Virgin Atlantic’s recent announcements reflect the airline’s dedication to meeting the evolving needs of UK-based business travellers. With new routes, enhanced connectivity, state-of-the-art aircraft, and a strong commitment to sustainability, Virgin Atlantic is poised to provide an exceptional travel experience while supporting economic growth and trade opportunities between the UK and destinations across the globe.

Dubai International Airport launches Duty Free ordering

Dubai International has made food ordering and duty-free shopping even easier, with the launch of DXB&More. 

Passengers at the world’s busiest international airport can make the most of their time before catching a flight by getting comfortable and reaching for their mobile and having the best of the airport retail and restaurant offering delivered directly.

DXB&more is a mobile food, beverage and retail ordering service that provides a smooth, convenient alternative to shopping, dining in or waiting for an order to go, without the need to download an app.

The creation of DXB&more was in direct response to the evolving needs of the busy traveller, providing a convenient alternative to shopping and dining before a flight.

Eugene Barry, EVP Commercial at Dubai Airports said 

At Dubai Airports, we are focused on improving our guests’ experience across all physical and digital touchpoints through DXB. Clearly, the events of the past 18 months have accelerated key consumer trends and raised customer expectations around choice and convenience.

Our objective is to create and test new ways of communicating with travellers before, during and after their journey with us, and raise awareness of the full range of shopping, dining, and hospitality experiences across our airport by integrating all of these channels on a single platform, while speaking directly to the consumer. It is also a way of supporting our important commercial partners and optimising opportunities jointly, by broadening the very definition of commercial boundaries and reshaping our partnerships. 

Passengers can order food from the airport’s eateries as well as perfumes, beauty products and electronics and more from Duty Free

The airport claims to have ambitions for the growth of DXB&more which will see the platform “develop into an all-encompassing digital DXB experience, bringing together digital entertainment partners, more shopping and live experiences to guests already in the airport and those who are due to travel”.

Emirates Pavilion ready to welcome visitors at Expo 2020 Dubai

Expo 2020, Dubai’s must-see aviation attraction, is gearing up to open its doors to the public on 1 October.

Located in the Opportunity District, and within walking distance of the Al Wasl Dome, the Emirates Pavilion offers a preview for the future of commercial aviation, reframing the role that science and technology will play in the next 50 years of air travel, as it welcomes visitors to experience two floors of interactive multi-sensory installations.

Visitors to Expo 2020 Dubai can plan their visit to the Emirates Pavilion and book their preferred date and time slots in advance.

Construction on the Emirates Pavilion began in March 2019 and was completed in June this year. During its design and construction phases, the Emirates Pavilion followed a number of sustainability principles, using non-hazardous, regional, reusable and recyclable materials in its overall structure, and incorporated different design solutions to reduce energy and water consumption.

The Emirates Pavilion’s towering four-storey design and façade are modelled around an aircraft’s wings taking flight, with 24 aluminium-clad fins that curve around two sides of the building structure. The Emirates Pavilion’s exterior lighting includes an 800 metre LED system, which illuminates in vibrant colours at night. The interior’s bright, ultramodern design lets in ample natural light and serves as a backdrop for the immersive experiences, and can welcome 120 people an hour. T

Friendly and knowledgeable staff and Emirates Cabin Crew will be on hand to assist visitors at the Pavilion. As well as the installations and experiences, visitors will be able to enjoy the Emirates Pavilion cafe located on the first floor, and can also take home a memento from their visit at the Emirates Official Store, which will be featuring customised Emirates and Expo 2020 Dubai merchandise for sale.

The Emirates Pavilion is open every day during Expo 2020 Dubai from 10am to 10pm.

Uneven effect of Covid-19 shakes up the lists of busiest airports

Airports Council International (ACI) World has published its preliminary world airport traffic rankings – covering passenger traffic and aircraft movements for 2020 – showing the dramatic impact of Covid-19 on what are ordinarily the world’s busiest airports.

Global passenger traffic at the world’s top 10 busiest airports decreased by 45.7% in 2020. Overall, passenger traffic at the world’s airports decreased by 64.6% which shows that the impact of the pandemic and the early stages of recovery in air travel has not been uniform around the world.

According to the preliminary data, Guangzhou Bai Yun International Airport in China recorded the most passenger traffic in 2020, with Atlanta Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport in the United States just behind.

Seven of the top 10 airports for passenger traffic are in China with three in the United States. In most cases, domestic air travel is beginning a modest rebound while international air travel remained depressed because of travel restrictions.

Luis Felipe de Oliveira, Director General of ACI World said,

The impact of the COVID-19 on global passenger traffic pandemic brought aviation to a virtual standstill in 2020 and we continue to face threat. The data reveals the challenge airports continue to face and it remains imperative that the industry is supported through direct support and sensible policy decisions from governments to ensure that aviation can endure, rebuild connectivity, and fuel a global economic recovery.

The findings show that the impact remains uneven with different regions experiencing different challenges and requiring different policy decisions and support from governments to lay the foundation for recovery.

With some positive signs of recovery, especially in countries with high rates of vaccination, a sustained global recovery will only be realized with an escalation of vaccination campaigns, the continued development of digital health passes, and coordinated and cohesive policy support from governments.

Air cargo was less impacted by COVID 19, with volumes decreasing by only 8.9%, to an estimated 109 million metric tonnes in 2020, equivalent to 2016 levels (110 million metric tonnes).

For airports, revenues are tightly correlated to traffic levels but, like many other capital-intensive businesses, a large proportion of airport costs remain fixed and do not fall at the same level as traffic throughput and revenues during the crisis. Even with reduced operations, the closure of terminals and staff layoffs, this imbalance remains.

Airports in China occupied seven of the top ten positions in 2020. Atlanta slipped to second position, having seen a reduction in passenger traffic of 61.2%. Chengdu and Shenzen both moved up 21 places, Kunming 29, Xi’an 30 while Shanghai moved up 37 places.
Dubai retained its position as the world’s busiest international airport in 2020. Amsterdam and Heathrow swapped places. Istanbul and Doha both moved up eight positions in the table.

Dubai Airports CEO says bilateral agreements are needed to enable resumption of services

Paul Griffiths joined Dubai Airports as its first CEO in October 2007

Dubai Airports CEO Paul Griffiths has set out a number of steps that, he says, will enable a resumption of services.

Griffiths today confirmed that while the airport operator is taking appropriate measures to control costs, optimise liquidity, facilitate cargo and repatriation flights and prepare for a timely and proportionate activation of facilities and services at Dubai International (DXB) to support the resumption of scheduled traffic, the timing and the speed of air traffic recovery will ultimately depend on the development of a vaccine or treatment for Covid-19.

The Covid-19 pandemic is of a very different nature than any previous crisis in that it has affected supply, demand and health security and by extension the entire global economy. Until there is a proven level of confidence medically that people can travel without fear of spreading or contracting the virus, the situation we find ourselves in is likely to continue.

Covid-19 had a noticeable impact on passenger traffic at DXB the first quarter of the year as DXB recorded a total of 17.8 million customers, a year on year contraction of 19.8% due to dampened demand and reduced flight numbers caused by the suspension of services by regulatory authorities in the UAE and elsewhere.

Until a medical solution is found, the industry will rely on bilateral agreements that enable the resumption of services. We will gradually start to see some confidence build between trusted countries where the governments have acted significantly enough and early enough to get the spread of the virus under control.

As the UAE government took significant and early steps to get the virus under control, we are optimistic that there will be opportunities to pair with other governments that have been similarly effective to get air services going between them. With millions across the world in lockdown and eager for a change of scenery or to visit friends and relatives, travel has become one of the most desirable commodities. However, the current inability to safely travel is diminishing that demand.

Restoring consumer confidence is another area requiring industry attention. Griffiths confirmed that Dubai Airports will continue to ensure a safe and healthy airport environment by enabling social distancing, conducting thermal screening and Covid-19 testing in support of health authorities and undertaking robust deep-cleaning and sanitisation to help alleviate customer concerns about air travel once scheduled services resume.

In the short term, until we get a medical and technical solution, we will have robust measures in place. And while we will all have to practice social distancing in the near term, the idea of social distancing as a permanent part of society would be so socially and economically destructive it would simply not be sustainable. With the human ingenuity in the medical field and technology now, it’s quite possible a combination of the two will bring us a primary solution to get back to the social norms we’ve enjoyed for centuries.

While we’re certainly ready to ramp up for the resumption of travel, it’s virtually impossible to forecast with any reliability as to how rapidly air services will be re-established on a regularly scheduled basis and how long it will take to get back to previous traffic levels.

We’re looking at an 18 month to two-year time frame but that is highly dependent upon the development of an effective treatment or vaccine and the establishment of bilateral arrangements between countries. So, while we can’t predict how quickly or when this will happen, I am optimistic that the innate demand when people realise it is once again safe to travel will be huge. There will come a point where the world will open up again and the desire to travel will be even stronger than it has been in the past and Dubai Airports and the entire aviation community will be ready.

2,265,792 hotel rooms in pipeline

Global hotel pipeline hits record highs

The hotel industry continues to boom, with a record high of more than 2.2m hotel rooms in the pipeline – a 6% increase over the last year. 

Lodging Econometrics, the global leader for hotel real estate intelligence has released its year-end Global Construction Pipeline Trend Report, which compiles the construction pipeline counts for countries and markets around the world. At the close of 2018, LE analysts state that the total global construction pipeline hit record highs with 13,573 projects/2,265,792 rooms, a 7% increase in projects year-over-year.

The global pipeline has ascended for eight consecutive years after reaching its cyclical low in 2010. All regional pipelines, with the exception of South America, continued their upward trend year-over-year. Four of the seven global regions reached all-time highs in 2018: Europe, Africa, Middle East and Asia Pacific.

There are a record high 6,352 projects/1,172,591 rooms currently under construction worldwide. Projects scheduled to start construction in the next 12 months are at 3,860 projects/572,483 rooms. Projects in the early planning stage stand at 3,361rooms/520,718 projects, also at an all-time high.  The United Kingdom the pipeline is 266 projects/38,590 rooms.

Around the world, the cities with the largest pipeline counts are New York City with 171 projects/29,457 rooms, Dubai with 168 projects/49,943 rooms, and Dallas with 163 projects/19,476 rooms. Los Angeles follows with 147 projects/23,404 rooms, and Guangzhou, China with 132 projects/28,694 rooms.

The leading franchise companies in the global construction pipeline by project count are

  • Marriott International with 2,544 projects/420,405 rooms
  • Hilton Worldwide with 2,252 projects/333,209 rooms
  • InterContinental Hotels Group (IHG) with 1,716 projects/249,379
  • AccorHotels with 966 projects/177,052 rooms.

These four companies account for 55% of all projects in the global pipeline.

Contact your Global Travel Management Account Manager next time you need to book a hotel room, anywhere in the world.

United Arab Emirates: Flight traffic affected at Dubai Airport as fog lingers across the country

The National reported on Wednesday that dense fog was affecting flight traffic at Dubai International airport, resulting in several flight cancellations and numerous delays.

Some 21 other flights were diverted to other airports.

Airport officials reported that conditions were expected to improve by the afternoon, but passengers should contact airline companies to confirm individual flight times.

Meanwhile, the fog continued to cause problems on the country’s highways, where motorists faced near-zero visibility on roads in Dubai and Abu Dhabi.