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United Airlines Will Introduce Major Changes to its Meal Service in 2020



During United Airlines’ “Flight Plan 2020” event, held in Chicago on October 25, 2019, company executives outlined some upcoming changes in the airline’s in-flight dining experience.

Live and Let’s Fly reported that United presented a media audience with plans to expand its domestic first-class meal pre-selection process, provide additional meal selections, and offer more plant-based and health-conscious fare in 2020, although no specific date has been set for the rollout.

CNBC reported that United Airlines’ Executive Chef, Gerry Gulli, explained at the event that the airline is focusing its menu expansion efforts heavily on plant-based options, presumably to cater to the rising number of vegan and vegetarian customers. According to CNBC, Gulli actively stays abreast of evolving food trends, and even collaborates with other culinary experts and celebrity chefs to design exotic dishes for in-flight service.

Additional meal choices are also among the major evolutions to United’s in-flight dining experience planned for next year. Special dietary needs will be better accommodated, with gluten-free, vegan and vegetarian meals available for selection up to 24 hours prior to departure tire on or the mobile app.

New menus are aimed at satisfying today’s consumers, whose preferences continue to shift towards healthful fare made with high-quality ingredients. During the stage presentation, a sample menu of new items intended for a Los Angeles-to-Chicago flight was displayed, featuring four main food options: Ginseng chicken bowl, Seared chicken, Flat-iron steak and Vegan chili.

More plant-based and vegetarian options are promised to arrive in both premium and economy classes in 2020, featuring such selections as red-beet hummus with roasted vegetables; roasted curry cauliflower with whipped hummus and pomegranate; and vegan stuffed grape leaves with dolma-infused yogurt.

Toby Enqvist, United’s Chief Customer Officer, also revealed plans to expand pre-ordering ability for in-flight meals to all domestic first-class flights in 2020. This follows the airline’s trial and testing of a pre-order meal service option for domestic first-class passengers on select departures from Los Angeles and Washington Dulles earlier this year.

United CEO Oscar Munoz said: “You eventually are going to see an ordering system where you will be able to secure the options that are available on your flight so you get your choice and we get to figure out the inventory better.”

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Emirates Announces Firing Employees Amid the Pandemic



Emirates Airline, the last holdout among the Gulf region‘s three major East-West carriers in retaining its workforce announced on May 31, 2020, that it had fired an undisclosed number of employees, due to the near-shutdown of global air travel amid COVID-19.

The other two—Abu Dhabi’s Etihad and Doha-based Qatar Airways—had already scaled back in terms of staffing as the virus spread, virtually eliminating passenger demand and causing international borders to slam shut.

While Emirates has been applauded during the pandemic for continuing to run repatriation flights around the globe, as well as delivering cargo and critical supplies, it has been dramatically affected by the halting of international passenger travel, just like the rest of the world’s airlines.

In a statement, the company said, “We have endeavored to sustain the current family as is…but have come to the conclusion that we, unfortunately, have to say goodbye to a few of the wonderful people that worked with us.”

Without revealing any particulars of the mass firing, Emirates assured that those being axed from its workforce would be treated, “with fairness and respect.”

ABC News reported that to try and balance some of the immense losses the airline continues to suffer, Dubai’s Crown Prince, Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, injected an undisclosed amount of equity into its operations back in March.

Although the flag carrier, owned by a Dubai sovereign wealth fund, had already reduced its staff members’ pay during the course of the global health crisis.

Meanwhile, Emirates’ home base, Dubai International Airport—typically the world’s busiest in terms of international passenger traffic—has also been running only a fraction of its normal operations.

Dubai, which has positioned itself as a critical hub for the free movement of people, goods and capital from around the globe (all of which the pandemic has disrupted), now depends heavily upon a resumption of activity at its airport.

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