Lufthansa to build JKIA inflight catering unit after delay

What you need to know:

  • The entry of a second caterer is expected to impact on the quality of service and price of food served.

Lufthansa’s in-flight catering subsidiary is scheduled to begin constructing a Sh435 million kitchen at Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (JKIA) in January after a five-month delay. LSG Sky Chefs, which is undertaking the project jointly with Kenyan businessmen Matu Wamae and Ndung’u Gathinji, said it expects to begin serving airlines from the end of next year or early 2016.

The Kenya Airports Authority (KAA) said it handed over the site to the consortium in September and that it expects construction to take nine months once the project kicks off in January.

The site handover took place a month later than planned. “There was a slight delay as KAA cleared the site of debris, the operator has taken full possession and is securing the site with a fence,” said Dominic Ngigi, KAA’s corporate affairs manager. “The official construction shall commence in January 2015.”

KAA in a July memo indicated that LSG Sky Chefs and its local partners were scheduled to break ground for the project in August and start construction shortly thereafter. Mr Wamae, a former MP and current New KCC chairman, said the partners were “busy finalising drawings for construction of the facility in readiness for ground breaking.”

NAS Servair is currently Kenya’s only in-flight caterer. Mr Wamae and Mr Gathinji, the chairman of Drummond Investment Bank, said the tender for the project will be “floated publicly in due course.”

“We aim to start operations end of 2015/beginning of 2016,” said Kerstin Cynthia Lau, LSG Sky Chefs director for corporate communication in an email response to the Business Daily. When KAA announced the tender mid this year, it said the German multinational and the Kenyan partners committed to completing construction within 12 months after groundbreaking.

Had the project taken off as planned in August, the facility would have been ready 10 months from now. NAS Servair has since independence been serving meals to major airlines operating at JKIA and Mombasa’s Moi International Airport.

JKIA alone handles over six million passengers annually, shuttled in and out of the country by 46 different airlines, highlighting the lucrative nature of the business.

NAS Servair currently serves about 11,000 in-flight meals per day with over half of these being on Kenya Airways, the national carrier.

The entry of a second caterer is expected to impact on the quality of service and price of food served. The Lufthansa-led joint venture will pay KAA a graduated concession fee based on their annual sales as well as a standard rental fee for the land that the kitchen will occupy.

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