While CARES Act support for the airlines and private jet operators has been well documented, the Treasury Department also provided payroll aid to cargo airlines, fuelers, and companies that support air travel such as ground handlers, and yes, airline caterers.
One of the often ridiculed elements of the airline experience (alongside TSA, rude gate agents and flight attendants, dirty planes and lost luggage), an analysis of publicly disclosed information shows at least six airline caterers received $486 million in taxpayer funded aid.
“The Payroll Support Program under Division A, Title IV, Subtitle B of the CARES Act provides payroll support to passenger air carriers, cargo air carriers, and certain contractors for the continuation of payment of employee wages, salaries, and benefits,” according to the Treasury Department’s website.
Irving, Texas-based Sky Chefs, Inc. gained the largest chunk of support at $214 million. Better known as LSG Sky Chefs, the company is part of the conglomerate that owns German airline Lufthansa.
Regardless of jokes about airplane food, and the seemingly endless cutbacks, as of 2018 the company had over $5 billion in annual revenues and was responsible for over 35,000 jobs.
Its ability to meet the requirements and budgets of different airlines is apparent from the 34 different airlines it lists, ranging from Emirates and Singapore Airlines to American Airlines and United.
Next on the list is Gate Gourmet, Inc. based near Dulles International Airport outside Washington D.C. It received $171 million.