Dnata has revealed it has donated more than 160,000 excess meals destined for in-flight service to charity since the start of the coronavirus pandemic in March.
The catering and ground handling business estimates it has now given away 500,000 food items, weighing 50,000 kilograms, to organisations such as Sydney Children’s Hospital, Anglicare Emergency Food Relief Shelters Victoria and food rescue charity OzHarvest.
The generous gesture reflects the scale of devastation COVID-19 has caused, with movement restrictions, border closures and low confidence seeing airport passenger numbers down 97 per cent.
The chief executive of the business’ catering division, Hiranjan Aloysius, said, “Unfortunately, we had to make the difficult decision to stand down a portion of our employees and as an organisation we are very conscious of the impact the recent situation can have on families across Australia.
“In spite of difficult times, dnata remains committed to supporting all of the communities in which we operate and helping those in need.”
Despite the recent increase in unused food, the initiative has been ongoing since 2015, with 877,000 meals sent to OzHarvest alone in that time.
Dnata’s gesture followed a similar initiative at Air New Zealand, which has donated 15,000 food items, including cookies, bliss balls, fudge, crackers and muesli, to a South Auckland food bank.
It was one of a number of innovative exercises by the airline, which has also handed out 8,000 in-flight blankets, now no longer in use, to organisations and shipped 2,000 treats to essential workers in police stations, hospital and charities.
The business also moved to allow customers to donate their frequent flyer points to three charities, which can then redeem them on essential services such as food, heating and petrol.
Dnata itself has struggled during the pandemic, largely because it has been ineligible for JobKeeper payments because it is owned by a foreign state, Dubai’s Emirates Group.
The business claimed that move put 4,500 jobs at risk.