Singapore Airlines (SIA) CEO Goh Choon Phong acknowledged that the airline could have done better with its introduction of paper food boxes and the removal of appetisers. The paper boxes were launched in March for a trial run on some medium- and long-haul flights but received strong criticism from customers regarding food standards and presentation. As a result, SIA has decided not to proceed with the initiative “for now.”
Goh explained that the paper boxes were intended to serve a variety of “comfort food” that was previously unavailable in economy class, such as laksa and mee siam. The boxes could retain moisture and heat, allowing customers to enjoy the food “in the way that it should be served.” However, he admitted that the airline should have paid more attention to how the paper packaging could be perceived by customers.
When the boxes were first introduced, some passengers felt that the move made SIA appear “cheap” and that it was a cost-cutting measure. The airline clarified that the boxes actually cost more than the current disposable plastic casserole dishes.
SIA also uses paper food boxes for economy-class meals on short-haul flights under three-and-a-half hours. This was launched in 2020 and will continue despite the end of the trial for medium- and long-haul flights.
Goh also mentioned that SIA “could have reacted faster” to requests to bring back certain food items, such as appetisers and bread rolls, that were removed during the pandemic. He said…
“If you ask me, could we have done better? I believe we could have reacted faster, rather than taking as much time as we did to actually put back those items. So that’s certainly one learning point that we will carry forward.”
Some items that were removed from the meal tray during the pandemic for operational and supply chain reasons, as well as to reduce food waste, have been restored. This includes cheese and crackers, and muffins for continental breakfasts.
From tomorrow, SIA will bring back appetisers for all economy class meals on medium-, long-haul and ultra-long haul trips – essentially any flight that is three-and-a-half hours and above. This is in addition to a bread roll, main course, cheese and crackers, and dessert. Also from tomorrow, bread rolls and butter will be served with economy-class meals on short-haul flights, along with a main course and dessert, reported Channel News Asia.
Despite the criticism it received, Goh Choon Phong said SIA must continue to innovate. He added that any innovation carries a risk of not achieving the intended results, but if it doesn’t work, the airline must be willing to “do what’s right by the customers, and that’s exactly what we’ve done.”
“Organisations have to also learn along the way. We certainly want to ensure that we continue to hear from our customers and take their feedback and act in a decisive manner.”
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