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Finnair lands in-flight meals at supermarket

The airline's catering firm, whose entire staff of 500 was furloughed, is seeking solutions amid the pandemic crisis.

Finnairin ruokakauppoihin tarkoitettu einesannos.
The boxed portions look like their jetset counterparts but are a bit larger and the seasoning was adjusted for taste buds at lower altitudes. Image: Sara Salmi / Yle

Following months of coronavirus-related travel restrictions and sharply reduced flight schedules, national airline Finnair's catering company has started producing versions of its business class in-flight meals to sell in supermarkets.

The catering firm, Finnair Kitchen, contacted the Tammisto K-Citymarket grocery store in Vantaa, according to the shop's merchant Kimmo Sivonen.

"[They] contacted me six weeks ago and I got excited about the idea," Sivonen said, adding that a lot of work was needed to get the meals ready for the retail world.

This was the catering firm's first foray into retail sales, a move which required new packaging, labeling as well as barcodes.

Story continues after photo.

Finnairin ruokakauppoihin tarkoitettu einesannos.
Finnair Kitchen meal retail packaging. Image: Sara Salmi / Yle

But Sivonen said he wanted to get the meals into the store quickly, as Finnair Kitchen's situation has been difficult over the past several months, with all of its roughly 500 employees furloughed.

Finnair Kitchen is the Tammisto market's tenth arrangement with local eateries. Sivonen said that local cooperation and employment is important to him.

"Before corona, there were two restaurants, then during corona, there were seven more, and now Finnair," he said, adding that the supermarket made a deal with local taxis for home food deliveries in the spring.

On the menu

The meals, including Nordic and Asian-inspired cuisine, are based on the airline's long-haul business class offerings. The boxed portions look like their jetset counterparts but are a bit larger and the seasoning was adjusted for taste buds at lower altitudes, according to Finnair Kitchen's chef Juha Stenholm.

Airplane meals meant for consumption in the skies are generally prepared with more spices and salt, as an aircraft's pressurised air and dry conditions impair the sense of taste.

The meals made their retail debut at the store on Thursday and sales were promising, according to Sivonen.

"It seems there were not enough for everyone who wanted them today. More packaging is already being made, hundreds of meals sold in the morning," Sivonen said on Thursday.

The plan is to test the concept for a month at the Vantaa supermarket with the aim of expanding to other Kesko-branded supermarkets

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