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Etihad to roll out ‘smart trays’ to monitor in-flight food consumption

written by Hannah Dowling | May 26, 2021

An Etihad Airbus A320 takes off from Almaty International Airport, Kazakhstan (Souce: Australian Aviation archives)

Abu Dhabi-based airline Etihad Airways will attempt to reduce in-flight food waste with its latest partnership, through the trial use of ‘smart trays’.

In partnership with UAE-based product development and design company The Concept, Etihad will roll out the use of The Concept’s NEOS Fly+ ‘smart tray’, which allows the airline to track passenger’s food consumption, and provide accurate data on consumption preferences.

These ‘smart trays’ use integrated technology systems to track which sections of a passenger’s in-flight meals are most often not consumed, with information sent back to Etihad via the cabin trolleys. The data is fed through an IoT chip in the tray itself.

Etihad hopes to use this anonymised information in order to improve meal planning, lower operating costs, and reduce widespread food wastage.

The Concept has created this ‘smart tray’ to drive sustainability efforts, and says the trays themselves are built using sustainable materials, including recycled PET bottles.

The company says it is hoping to help solve the industry-wide food waste issue, which is estimated to cost airlines in excess of $3.9 billion every year.

Research suggests that up to a quarter of the 1.5kg of waste produced by every airline passenger onboard comes from untouched food and drink.


Yadhushan Mahendran, chief executive officer of The Concept, said: “We look forward to this innovative partnership with Etihad Airways that will enable us to develop NEOS Fly+ locally in the UAE and is yet another testimony to how companies in the UAE are aligned together towards creating a sustainable impact globally.”

Meanwhile, Frank Meyer, chief digital officer, Etihad Airways Group, said: “This research and development partnership reinforces Etihad’s commitment to sustainability and our reputation for innovation.

“We look forward to working with The Concept on the development of the NEOS Fly+ which could support our efforts to reduce food wastage. We are proud to partner with a homegrown, locally based start-up to push the sustainability agenda forward.”

Late last year, Etihad announced that it will continue to scale down its operations and focus on becoming a mid-sized, full-service carrier.

With the announcement, Etihad streamlined its organisational structure and removed a number of senior executive roles, announced employee layoffs, and said it will concentrate future operations on its wide-body fleet.


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