American Airlines resumes hot food service in airport lounges, albeit with new protocol

Food and beverage programs make up a substantial portion of business for airports

Could this be a promising sign that the airline industry is recovering from a turbulent year?

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American Airlines will once again be serving hot food at its Admirals Club airport lounges across the country beginning Aug. 12, according to Forbes.

American Airlines is bringing back warm food to airport lounges, a sign that the travel industry is taking flight again during the coronavirus pandemic. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

AIRPORT RESTAURANTS, RETAILERS SEEKING CORONAVIRUS RELIEF FROM CONGRESS 

The airline, however, is instituting new health and safety protocol when it comes to passengers and their plates. Instead of allowing travelers to serve themselves buffet-style, AA staffers will now distribute food from behind acrylic dividers to limit passenger contact with food and serving utensils. Employees will be wearing gloves and masks to uphold social distancing.

The menu will also be reduced and include options like oatmeal, soup and macaroni and cheese, in addition to pre-wrapped meals. AA will also bring back its pay-per-item meal options, which include offerings like pizza and sandwiches, on Aug. 19, according to Forbes.

BOOKING.COM LAYING OFF 25% OF STAFF 

Food and beverage programs make up a substantial portion of business for airports across the country, much of which was devastated by reduced flight schedules and reduced foot traffic amid the coronavirus crisis. More specifically, just under 50 percent of an airport's revenue comes from restaurants, airport lounges and retail establishments, according to data from airline blog YourMilageMayVary.net.

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The Airport Restaurant and Retail Association, a trade group, estimated that airport restaurants and retail storefronts would do just $38 million in sales in April during the height of the pandemic, compared with the $825 million at the same time last year.

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Employment has also dropped dramatically for airport concessions workers — of the 125,000 employed at airports nationwide, the ARRA estimated that just 5 percent were currently employed in May.