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06 Nov 2023
Cathay Pacific Catering Services

Passengers enjoy a sophisticated inflight dining experience aboard a Boeing 707 in the mid-1970s.


In the mid-1940s, when Cathay Pacific first began offering scheduled passenger services with its DC-3s, inflight catering was rudimentary: salads, packets of sandwiches, bottles of Coca-Cola, flasks of Nescafé. Later, with the advent of the larger DC-4 “Skymaster” aircraft, the menu became more sophisticated: steak and eggs, served with ‘proper’ cutlery and china that had to be washed up by the cabin crew during transit stops. Passengers were suitably impressed – and sometimes tried to take their plates home. Cathay acquired its first jet aircraft, the Convair- 880M, in 1962 and with the sale of the last of its Lockheed L-188 Electra turboprop aircraft in 1967, boasted an all-jet fleet of five Convairs.

In the same year, the airline decided to turn its catering division into a standalone business, going into partnership with The Hongkong and Shanghai Hotels (the Peninsula Group) to form Air Caterers Limited, in order to offer this service to other airlines calling at Hong Kong. The new company later evolved into Swire Air Caterers and then, in the 1990s, was renamed Cathay Pacific Catering Services. CPCS is now Hong Kong’s leading inflight caterer, with shareholdings in four other flight kitchens overseas.

A chef boils chickens for Cathay Pacific inflight meals in the 1960s.