WTCE, the leading global event for inflight catering, onboard services and passenger comfort, is making Asia a key regional focus for its 2024 campaign in a bid to enhance the event’s appeal to potential visitors from the continent by highlighting the benefits of attending for Asian airlines.
With the Asian aviation industry expected to make a huge resurgence in 2024, particularly in the business travel sector, the organisers have released a report – in partnership with Asia-based Airline hospitality consultant Jeremy Clark – looking at Asia as a regional and global travel powerhouse.
The report highlights how Asia, while initially slower to recover travel-wise from the effects of the COVID pandemic, is now picking up pace and looks set to continue this growth into 2024 and beyond. According to SSCR rates (Scheduled Seat Capacity Recovery) Lion Air and Air Asia have seen recovery at 99% and 70% respectively and Singapore Airlines, 81%, Malaysian Airlines, 85% and Philippine Airlines, 87%.
By 2025, current predictions suggest 750m passenger journeys to/from Southeast Asia which would be 50% of 2019 numbers, and by 2040, this is expected to be 1.2billion. (Source: IATA)
Whilst the vast majority of travel is for leisure purposes and inter-regional (meaning low cost carriers are picking up a larger proportion of the recovery), the business travel market is also expected to make a huge resurgence with the return of face-to-face meetings. This will likely propel further growth in the increasingly popular business class sector.
When it comes to onboard hospitality, Southeast Asian carriers have long held a reputation for good food and service, something Thai Airways in particular prides itself on.
According to CEO Chai Eamsiri,
“the airline is committed to regaining and re-building its heritage and taking its rightful place as one of the region’s premier full service carriers in all classes.”
Trends-wise there is a strong focus on food – service and quality. Whereas many US and European carriers have abandoned any form of complimentary food service onboard, in Asia even airlines operating short regional flights serve a snack in economy at the very least. And by and large, it is a healthy offering.
Young Asian travellers are renowned for favouring traditional fresh foods with health benefits over unhealthy fast food or branded products.
Commenting on the market, Jeremy Clark said: “The Asian travel industry is very different to Europe or the US; passengers have long held very different expectations of airlines meaning Asia has always been the benchmark for quality and value in travel hospitality and onboard service.
This means that operators are looking for products and solutions that will help them elevate their offering above their competitors and deliver their airline a crucial point of difference.”
At this year’s WTCE there will be a large number of suppliers exhibiting who are set-up to work with and supply products to Asia, making the event a must-visit for buyers from Asian airlines looking to improve their passenger experience.
These include big global names such as leading airline caterer LSG Group, Linstol, a global leader in sustainable in-flight passenger comforts, FORMIA, a global supplier of tailor-made, premium, in-flight amenities and dnata, one of the world’s largest air services providers and onboard catering companies.
There will also be a number of companies taking part from Asia including full service caterer specialising in authentic Asian cuisine, SATS Catering Pte.Ltd, leading Japanese premium porcelain supplier Noritake Co.Ltd, Merryfood, a premier condiment supplier from India and Xiamen Avio Pack Co.Ltd, a premier supplier of passenger comfort products and catering solutions from China.
In addition to product sourcing there will also be a significant number of learning and networking opportunities on offer for Asian visitors to identify the trends sweeping the global industry. The educational programme features the popular Taste of Travel Theatre which, through a schedule of seminars, cooking demos and tasting opportunities, will provide a platform for the industry to discuss the onboard trends of tomorrow and beyond.
The What’s New Onboard feature, showcasing a variety of newly launched products to the onboard market. The ‘Wellbeing Walk-through’ which highlights a range of exhibitors showcasing products that support wellbeing – from healthy food and beverages to soft goods and amenity products and the Steps to Sustainability’ feature, which celebrates the accomplishments and innovations of companies that are leading the way in environmentally conscious materials, production, manufacturing and operations.
From a networking perspective, Asian airline visitors will be able to access WTCE’s exclusive VIP Buyer Programme, which provides upgraded attendees with a range of exciting benefits before and during the event. These include access to the VIP Buyer Lounge as well as a digital gift bag with exclusive deals, give-aways and promo items from a range off unique exhibitors.
Polly Magraw, WTCE Event Director, concluded: “Naturally, Asia has always been an important focus for WTCE but with the travel industry expected to continue to bounce back even further in 2024, we are keen to show air operators from the region how the event could really help them boost their business this year.
Not only do we have a large selection of global suppliers exhibiting, but we also have a strong number of companies from across Asia in attendance, providing opportunities for buyers to see a range of organisations offering innovative and unique products that could help them differentiate themselves from their competitors.
In addition, the educational opportunities at WTCE are second to none, providing Asian airlines with the chance to learn about trends and developments in the rest of the world that may impact and influence their own businesses.”
WTCE takes place at the Hamburg Messe, Hamburg, Germany from 28-30 May 2024. To download the report, visit the website: