in Flight Services & Support / Features

Mohamed gets a taste for growth

Posted 27 March 2018 · Add Comment

EgyptAir In-Flight Services chairman and CEO, Hesham Abdel Hafeiz Mohamed, is hoping for expansion in the Middle East and Africa.

Hesham Abdel Hafeiz Mohamed hit the ground running when he became chairman and CEO of EgyptAir In-flight Services over a year ago, saying he is “happily on-call 24/7” to make sure everything runs smoothly.
“EgyptAir In-Flight Services is a huge company with more than 2,500 fully trained staff across its various departments, so there is a lot to oversee to make sure we run a seamless operation,” said Mohamed.
“The method of running the business has been refined and enhanced over 60 years of producing high-quality meals, services and solutions and delivering more value to our customer, which means that, in turn, we earn their respect and loyalty.”
The company recently renewed its joint venture with Lufthansa and Egyptian Aviation Services (EAS) in a company known as LSG Sky Chefs Egypt – of which EgyptAir owns 70%.
Its catering unit at Cairo International Airport can provide 30,000 meals daily and its rapidly expanding facilities at Hurghada International Airport and Sharm el-Sheikh International have production capacity of 6,000 meals daily for each.
Soon a new catering unit will be open in Burg El Arab Airport in Alexandria.
“We have bought a piece of land there and we have started to establish a new unit,” said Mohamed. “Staff are currently there but with external suppliers until the unit opens.”
Mohamed added that while the state-of-the-art kitchens can serve up to 30,000 meals a day at full capacity, it is more normal to see figures of 12-15,000 meals per day, unless it is holy holiday periods like Hajj and Umrah, where figures climb to 27,000.
He is hoping to see these figures increase substantially within the next 10 years.
“As soon as I started in my position, expansion was my plan,” he said “So we are now working on a 10-year plan to increase our catering capacity level by another 30,000 meals – to reach 60,000. We believe Egypt is already back on track seeing passenger numbers increase, and expect in 10 years it will once again be one of the world’s top destinations.”
He added: “We are also thinking to expand outside Egypt – we have already looked into extending catering units in other Arab countries and Africa. We are currently in talks with Iraq for a catering unit in Baghdad, but this is at an early stage.”
The company’s catering menus change every three months according to airline requirement.
“We make sure we keep airlines happy by providing new menus with different choices for each class. This is something, for example, EgyptAir likes,” said Mohamed.
While the company’s kitchen staff and chefs are all Egyptian, Mohamed said he is looking into finding chefs abroad that can offer expertise in various cuisines.
The company also provides services for business jet customers, as well as providing ground support equipment at Cairo, including a fleet of 47 high-loaders.
Other facilities that Mohamed oversees include a dry ice factory with a capacity of 625kg an hour, a laboratory that ensures that each product line meets food safety standards, and a huge laundry service.
“We are the only company at Cairo International Airport to provide a laundry service that consists of washing, drying, maintaining, and replenishing cabin interior products including napkins, tablecloths, pillowcases, headrest covers, trolley runners and cotton towels – basically everything you see on board,” said Mohamed.
If that wasn’t enough, the company also has its own registered brand name in cafe management – Aero Café – and a sales department for different on-board brands, including perfumes and watches.
With so much going on Mohamed said that his main challenge is maintaining and finding the ‘right balance’ between quality and price.
He added: “We provide a very high-quality product, so my challenge is how can we offer a reasonable price to customers while still making a profit. During the recent circumstances of inflation in Egypt and its political position, it is a challenge to keep business running and stable while regaining profit for high standards.
“However, in the last few years, we are keeping it all in great shape and we are seeing an increase in profit each year as tourist figures climb.”
 

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