Emirates has unveiled details of its more than half a billion dollar “liquor investment” programme.
The airline says that on any given day, more than 60 different wines, champagnes and ports, sourced from vineyards in 11 countries, including New Zealand, are served onboard Emirates to passengers throughout their planes.
It has more than 1.2 million bottles aging in its own cellar in Burgundy, France, some only ready for drinking in a decade or more.
Champagne is the most popular drink in first and business class and by volume 51.5 per cent of Champagne aboard is drunk in the economy section.
New Zealand wines served inflight with Emirates over the past two years include; Cloudy Bay sauvignon blanc, Yacht Club sauvignon blanc, Metis sauvignon blanc, Amisfield sauvignon blanc, Spy Valley sauvignon blanc, Isabel Estate sauvignon blanc, Felton Road pinot noir, Rippon pinot noir, Craggy Range pinot noir, Peregrine pinot gris, Mills Reef Gimblett Gravels Reserve syrah.
New Zealand wines have featured in first, business and economy class on Emirates flights.
Emirates, which flies four times daily from New Zealand to Dubai and beyond via Australia, has a dynamic strategy of buying wines, and an intensive programme to secure the best vintages for future consumption by buying “en primeur” often before the wines are bottled and released to the market.
The airline’s experts hand pick and secure the wines served onboard.
President Emirates Airline Sir Tim Clark said that over a decade ago the airline moved away from the usual corporate procurement process and decided to take control of its own destiny.
“We could have taken the easy way out – just do the maths for how many bottles we’d need in each cabin class over a year, then put it up for tender. But with the scale of our operations, this would limit our choices as not many producers can offer the quantities we’d need, at the quality standards that we’d want.”
The airline has spent more than US$500 million on wine and spirits to date.
“Sure, it is a big investment. But wine and champagne will always be an important aspect of our onboard product therefore we take a long term view. It is simply part of our rigorous planning process.”
Besides wines, the airline serves 43 different spirits and 12 different cocktails.
The 30-year-old airline is one of the biggest in the world and has the largest fleet of Airbus A380 aircraft.
NZ Herald, Thursday Dec 4, 2014 – Grant Bradley – Aviation, tourism and energy writer for the Business Herald.