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Given the harsh economic conditions in the airline industry and the hyper-competitive market, it's not surprising to find that the top US airlines have cut back the average amount of money spent on passenger meals.
According to the US Government's Department of Transportation, from a high of almost $6 per person in 1991, to an average cost of $3.58 per passenger in 2009, the costs per person for food expenses has decreased by roughly $2.60. (NOTE: the chart above shows a forecasted figure of only $3.07 per passenger in 2010 -- which would be an all-time low.)
Of course, not all airlines are created equal. Some pay a little more per passenger for food, like Alaska Air, while others invest next to nothing (we're looking at you, Southwest). However, while not all carriers are the same, they all face the same challenge – how to manage food and service costs while at the same time giving customers what they want.