Gate Gourmet


Gate Gourmet

Gate Gourmet is an airline catering firm with headquarters in Zurich, Switzerland, and Reston in unincorporated Fairfax County, Virginia, United States.

Gate Gourmet was founded in 1992, and is the world's largest independent airline catering, hospitality and logistics company. The company has substantially expanded its products and services recently through acquisitions and strategic investments. The portfolio now includes cabin service ware (deSter); comfort/entertainment items (Harmony); packaged food components assembled in central production units (Supplair); aviation services such as cabin cleaning, aircraft washing and deicing and passenger services (Fernley/IAS); catering security (Gate Safe); business applications (eGate Solutions) and supply chain optimization (partnership with Pourshins).

As of 2004, it had 22,000 employees, had a revenue of 2.4 billion Swiss Francs, and produced 195 million flight meals per year. Some of its clients are British Airways, LAN Airlines, American Airlines, United Airlines, Qantas Airways, Aerolineas Argentinas, Avianca, Northwest Airlines, Iberia Airlines, Air France, Delta Air Lines, Continental Airlines, Emirates Airline, Thai Airways International, Swiss International Air Lines, Airblue, Amtrak and EasyJet.

Gate Gourmet's roots are in Swissair. For a long time, Gate Gourmet was considered Swissair's "Crown Jewel". The company was worth roughly 6 billion Swiss Francs before September 11 and the bankruptcy of Swissair. The rise of oil prices damaged the airlines and many of Gate Gourmet's main customers went bankrupt or narrowly avoided bankruptcy. The weakness of the airlines affected the industries that cater to or support it. This eventually set the stage for Swissair's crown jewel requiring a restructuring effort, which soon burdened its employees. The company was sold in 2002 to Texas Pacific Group for U$D 870 million.

Disputes and Strike Action

A major dispute, reminiscent of the Grunwick Dispute of the 1970s, ensued when it sacked 670 staff based at London's Heathrow Airport in August 2005; the staff were gathered in a car park and the announcement made by megaphone. [ [http://www.personneltoday.com/Articles/2005/08/31/31360/my-baptism-of-fire-by-new-gate-gourmet-hr-director.html Personnel Today] , 31 August 2005] In sympathy with the sacked workers, British Airways staff at the airport walked out, and mass pickets of Gate Gourmet were organised by the TGWU. Several workers alleged that Gate Gourmet had manufactured the dispute, in order to employ non-union workers at lower rates of pay and with worse conditions of employment. The company subsequently offered a redundancy package of more than twice the statutory minimum in an effort to resolve the labour difficulties, secure a new deal with British Airways, and avoid insolvency. The union later negotiated the reinstatement of some of the employees, but others have continued to protest at their treatment.

On March 1 2007, Texas Pacific Group sold its remaining shares in Gate Gourmet to Merrill Lynch.

Fernley and International Aviation Services (IAS)

On September 27 2007, Gate Gourmet acquired a leading UK-based group operating under the Fernley and International Aviation Services (IAS) brands. The acquired companies offer a comprehensive range of aviation special services including aircraft cabin cleaning, aircraft washing, de-icing and toilet and water servicing; security activities such as baggage screening and document verification; airport executive lounges; and passenger services such as wheelchair and unaccompanied minor assistance.

Along with Fernley and IAS, the group also includes Specialist Airport Services, European Airport Services and Airfield Services Ltd. The companies operate primarily in the UK, including at London's Heathrow, Gatwick Stansted and Luton airports, as well as Manchester, Dublin, Cork, Shannon, Liverpool, East Midlands, Biggin Hill and Glasgow. European Airport Services also operates in Amsterdam; Brussels, and several other regional airports in France and the Netherlands.

The acquired Fernley/IAS companies were privately held entities - mainly owned by Gary Morby - that have been in business for about 25 years. The new range of Gate Gourmet's aviation special services will be renamed Gate Aviation Services, which will be led by Morby.

Food Safety

In August of 2004, 45 people were sickened with Shigella after eating contaminated carrots provided by Gate Gourmet. [ [http://www.about-shigella.com/shigella_outbreaks/news/isle-firm-linked-to-airline-food-ills/ Isle firm linked to airline food ills] ] After the outbreak, the FDA inspected Gate Gourmet’s Honolulu facility and determined that there were substantial problems. Gate Gourmet was warned that unless the problems were rectified, its facility would be shut down. [ [http://www.usatoday.com/travel/news/2005-05-18-filthy-food_x.htm FDA warns airline food supplier over filth] ]

Rivals

* LSG Sky Chefs
* Servair
* [http://www.sats.com.sg SATS Catering]
*Dnata

References

[ [http://www.gategourmet.com/about/pressreleases/2007/pr_2007_0927_fernley.html Gate Gourmet Press Release] , 27 September 2007]

External links

* [http://www.gategourmet.com Official website of Gate Gourmet]
* [http://www.internationalaviationservices.co.uk Official Website of International Aviation Services(IAS) and Fernley]
* [http://www.guardian.co.uk/print/0,3858,5271471-103410,00.html "Why protest is top of the menu for catering staff"] – "The Guardian", 27 August 2005
* [http://libcom.org/tags/gate-gourmet Articles about striking Gate Gourmet workers] at libcom.org


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