This whole coronavirus crisis no-flying business has put an end to so many of our favorite things: visiting family and friends, escaping our mundane lives and discovering exciting new places around the world. Some, unbelievably, would add to this list another showstopping item: missing out on airline food.

And while nothing can be done about staying put in the horrible heatwave that is currently sweeping through Israel, those who miss sinking their teeth into these little trays of food can find solace in the fact that the Ben-Gurion Airport factory making the mile-high meals for Israeli carriers is now offering its wares to the public.

“We’re the largest factory in the country for the production of food for planes,” explains Tamam Aircraft Food Industries CEO Amir Shutzman. “Around 60 percent of the meals that come out of the airport are ours.”

טוסו להזמין מיום ראשון039722010

פורסם על ידי ‏Tamam Aircraft Food Industries Ltd -תממ תעשיות מזון למטוסים בע"מ‏ ב- יום שבת, 25 ביולי 2020

In regular, pandemic-free times, the Tamam factory is busy cranking out some 7.5 million meals a year. But when air traffic came to a halt back in March, the veteran factory had to furlough most of its 550 employees, almost all of whom come from a socio-economically disadvantaged background.

“To try and help our workers, I was thinking how to get out of the box and come up with ideas,” Shutzman says. The result was an online post inviting people to buy frozen airplane meals, food trays, hospitality trays and sandwiches even while on the ground to support the factory and its workers.

“It was a nice and beautiful idea and got lots of media coverage,” Shutzman says. “It really created great demand for a lot of the things that we do.”

Hundreds of Israelis have already placed their orders, enabling the factory to rehire some of its staff.

According to Shutzman, the most popular items have been meatballs and chicken schnitzel from the airplane food selection and schnitzel and chicken breast from the tray food selection. All the meals are kosher, arrive frozen and are good value for the money – a pack of five ready-to-eat airplane meals costs only NIS 50 (less than $15).

To those pondering why someone would be inclined to enjoy airplane food when they don’t have to, Shutzman has a three-tiered answer.

“First, we think it’s nostalgic at the moment — because there’s been no flying for the past six months, it brings back the memories. Second, it really helps people get back to work and will get the factory going. Third, it’s tasty.”

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