India: Airline caterers respond to Halal Tourism Requirement

Hj. Abdul Rafek Saleh, Certification and Training Manager of Malaysian Airlines, Mr Mohamed Jinna, CEO, Halal India(Granting the certificate), Mr Mahaboob Sheriff, Service Delivery Manager, Halal India, Mr.Radhakirshnan, General Manager of Taj Madras Flight catering unit(receiving the certificate)

Halal India, one of the leading Halal certification bodies in the world, has recently certified two major airline caterers in India: TajSATS and SkyGourmet.

This is not surprising as the world is awakening to the potential of Halal tourism. It is a concept that has already been adopted and implemented in many countries globally.

Spending by Muslim tourists is growing faster than the global rate and is forecast to reach $192 billion a year by 2020, up from $126 billion in 2011. This is according to a recent study done by the Singapore based Crescentrating, an online guide to Halal Friendly travel, and DinarStandard, a US-based firm that tracks the Muslim lifestyle market, that was conducted in 47 countries.

Mr Sheriff, service delivery manager of Halal India, said, “These airline caterers were already abiding with very stringent processes for food safety and quality. They sought Halal Certification from Halal India to give more value and credibility to their facilities which already claimed to be supplying halal food previously.”

Mr.Vipin Sharma, DGM of Skygourmet Catering Hyderabad, stated that Halal Compliance is a must for flight catering with the growing needs of passengers and the diversity involved. More and more people are now flying on domestic, as well as international routes, and there is a strong need of wider acceptance of products on board the airliners. We at SkyGourmet have always followed the policy of standardizing production to ensure that all of our products meet the strict Islamic guidelines associated with food. We were always a Halal Compliant and certified unit but raised our standards and accreditation based on the stricter requirement from airlines we cater for. There was a need to verify and validate our processes in the most stringent manner by a noted competent authority in India, and Halal India just fitted in perfectly. It was not just an audit and certification procedure, but a very interactive session with the team members of the unit, thus aiding the wider understanding of the concepts of Halal.

Mr.Radhakirshnan, General Manager of Taj Madras Flight catering unit stated, “We are extremely delighted to be certified by HALAL INDIA as a Total Halal Kitchen. In today’s highly competitive business world, an audit process and certification not only adds laurel’s to the unit but also helps one to fulfill the primary commitment to serve meals of the highest standard and to deliver quality in-flight services to the customers.”

“It is a pleasing moment to all Muslims & Non-Muslims travelers in India, I strongly believe that In-flight Halal food may bring new tourists to India to explore Indian rich heritage, culture, food and Indian hospitality.  By 2020 Indian tourism may hit 50% growth and we should ready cater this segment tourist in order to address their needs and requirements,” said Halal India CEO Mr.Mohamed Jinna.

Hj. Abdul Rafek Saleh, Certification and Training Manager of Malaysian Airlines, and a prominent authority from Malaysia to monitor Halal Compliance across the world for Malaysian airlines, was present at the Halal certification granting ceremony. He stated that Malaysian Airlines was itself observing the Halal Compliance of these airline caterers, but seeing the competence and reliability of Halal India on certification matters in India, they requested this Halal Authority to collaborate with them in doing the certifications in India.

In the certification of the Halal status, the audit process covers all aspects of preparation, slaughtering, processing, handling, storage, transportation, cleaning, sanitation and disinfection and management practices. The inspection / examination should not create or give rise to any question or doubt.

The Halal Auditor will only confer the Halal status when he is fully confident and satisfied beyond any reasonable doubt, on every aspect of the examination. “This has been the case at Taj Madras Flight Kitchen which produces Halal in flight catering meals to Malaysia Airlines (MAS) and its clientele,” said Hj. Rafek Saleh.

There are lots of responses to this demand for Halal friendly facilities in India. The Hotel and Restaurant industry is gearing up by implementing different Halal practices, of which first and foremost is the food. Also other practices, such as prayer facilities and gender-based accommodation of various services (different timings for men and women for gym facility and swimming pools, etc) are being implemented.

Seeing the growing demand, Halal India has already started its campaign educating Hoteliers, Restaurateurs, Airlines and Hospitals on the growing Muslim market segment.

About TajSATS

TajSATS Air Catering Ltd. is a joint venture of the Indian Hotels Company, popularly known as the Taj Hotels Resorts and Palaces, and SATS (formerly known as Singapore Airport Terminal Services).

The Taj Hotels Resorts and Palaces is part of the Tata Group, India’s largest business conglomerate. The Tata Group has 98 companies spread across 80 countries in 6 continents.

About SkyGourmet

Gate Gourmet is the world’s largest independent provider of catering and provisioning services for airlines and railroads. We have more than six decades of experience in providing tasty, nutritious — and affordable — meals for travelers.

The company is the core business behind Gate Group, whose 11 associated brands offer customers a comprehensive scope of products and services for virtually any onboard need — from innovative menu design to stylish packaging to sophisticated supply chain solutions — and more than 200 million meals a year to our 270-plus customers at some 120 airport locations around the globe.

About Halal India

Halal India (HI) is as an Independent Certification body registered with the government of India. Halal India is very pleased to introduce itself as one of the established Halal Certification bodies in India. Halal India Certification is becoming more relevant in today’s market mainly because people are more aware of the Halal concept. It is about products being deemed safe for consumption and having health benefits.

Halal India is recognized by IHIA (International Halal Integrity Alliance, Malaysia), a partner of the Islamic Chamber of Commerce and Industry (Kingdom of Saudi Arabia). IHIA has been recognized by the 57 OIC (Organization of Islamic Conference) countries, and Intertek Testing Services, a testing company, are its global partners.