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Interview with Sandro Zanetti – Manager Catering Operations

Read in: Deutsch

Sandro Zanetti, who is 38, got his first taste of the airline world as a Swissair flight attendant back in 1999. He left to attend the Lucerne Hotel School, followed this with work in the hotel business and then continued his studies to earn a Bachelor’s in Business Administration. He has been with us in our Catering Operations unit since 2008.  

  • Sandro, what does your job involve?

Well, the meals we serve aboard our flights are determined by our Product Planning team. And my unit – Catering Operations – works really closely with them to ensure that what we want is properly provided by our catering suppliers. So we’re basically the link between SWISS and our caterers. Our main task here is to implement our inflight product concepts and instruct our caterers accordingly. That also involves drawing up the loading plans: if a flight was just loaded in any old way, we’d have total chaos on board! We’re further responsible for all the quality management and monitoring for our inflight product. And we visit our downline stations once a year, too, to make sure that their products and services are all as they should be.

  • What would you say is the biggest challenge in your job?

Squaring the circle! On the one hand we want to have an inflight product that’s attractively priced for us, and is as easy to handle as possible for our caterers and our crews – not least to minimize any errors. At the same time, though, we’re a premium airline that wants to offer its customers an attractive product: breakfast on a morning European flight, a sandwich on an afternoon flight, and the occasional ice cream, too. That’s quite a balancing act: how much can we simplify our processes and our product portfolio and still offer a high-quality service.

  • What do you do in your spare time?

I find that playing sports is a good way of unwinding from my office job. I ski in winter; and I also go jogging, and take part in races, too. And I love to travel, of course. I went to Brazil and Argentina for the first time this spring.

  • You’re responsible for our long-haul product within your team. How have you been preparing for the new Triple Sevens?

Our Airbus A340s can accommodate 164 people in Economy Class. The Boeing 777’s Economy Class cabin has room for 270. That’s over a hundred more! So we needed to calculate very carefully exactly how much space our catering would require. Needless to say, with a major event like the introduction of a totally new aircraft type, we also wanted to channel the views of our crews into the galley loading concept. And we’ve conducted workshops with our crew members at Gate Gourmet to this end. After all, our cabin staff have to have a practical inflight workplace that makes ergonomic sense – like putting the coffee cups as close to the coffee machine as possible. At the same time, though, we’ve had to pay due regard to the caterer’s workflows as well…

  • How would you describe your work at SWISS in three words?

Interesting, challenging and varied.

  • And if you could be our CEO for a day, what would you make happen?

I’d get every Economy Class passenger on our European flights to pay 50 centimes more for their ticket. And I’d put all this extra revenue into making our inflight product even better. I think it’s really worth a try, because in today’s mass-travel business, a few extra francs can really do a lot!


Text & Photos: Andrea Fischer