DO&CO on track with ÖBB

A leading airline caterer will soon provide food for Federal Railways (ÖBB) customers, according to a newspaper.

Die Presse reports today (Weds) that ÖBB picked DO&CO to manage on-board catering services of its long-distance trains from April. The state-funded railway company and the Viennese gastronomy enterprise were unavailable for comment. ÖBB is expected to reveal which firm was assigned the contract tomorrow.

DO&CO’s main business activity is airline catering but the company headed by Attila Dogudan also succeeds in providing culinary delights for the guests of various events such as sports competitions and concerts. DO&CO entered the Istanbul Stock Exchange (ISE) in December 2010. Its shares are also traded at the Vienna Stock Exchange (WBAG).

DO&CO was selected in July 2010 to provide VIP catering for the European Football Championship 2012. The tournament will take place in Poland and Ukraine in June and July of this year. The order followed DO&CO’s engagement during the Euro2008 which took place in Austria and Switzerland. Dogudan’s company was also in charge of gastronomic concerns in the VIP areas of several of the past few years’ UEFA Champions League finals.

ÖBB cancelled the contract with a catering partner last year when papers suggested that the firm may have served food past its expiry date. The company vehemently dismissed the accusations while ÖBB said it considered going to court against its former partner. The assignment of DO&CO, one of the best known Austrian brands in Europe, could help improve ÖBB’s reputation.

ÖBB boss Christian Kern said last week he hoped to bring the company back in the black by 2013. The former Verbund AG manager said ÖBB managed to reduce its annual loss from 330 million Euros in 2010 to 28 million Euros last year. ÖBB’s budget could be cut as part of the government’s upcoming savings package. The railroad company gets 560 million Euros a year from the state to operate unprofitable passenger services. Furthermore, ÖBB is provided with around six billion Euros in credits, guarantees and direct investments by the government coalition of Social Democrats (SPÖ) and the People’s Party (ÖVP) each year.

ÖVP traffic issues spokesman Martin Bartenstein said ÖBB should consider spending less on some current infrastructure projects. He stressed that his party had no plans to stop the ongoing or planned tunnel projects. Kern argued that ÖBB was already strongly contributing to the government’s cost-cutting measures. The ÖBB chief explained that the firm intended to spend 750 million Euros less than planned between 2012 and 2016. He added that the budget for tunnel construction and other projects could be reduced by one billion Euros overall in the next years.

ÖBB has 42,700 employees. It counted 210 million passengers in 2010. Another 250 million people used the services of its bus service affiliate Postbus. ÖBB has not yet provided passenger figures for 2011. Public transport experts think that the quality of service in train traffic will improve thanks to the start of Westbahn, ÖBB’s first major domestic rival.

Hans Peter Haselsteiner, who heads construction company Strabag SE, revealed in 2008 that Westbahn would run trains. The private rail firm started operating last month. The Vienna – Salzburg link is the only service Westbahn is currently providing. Reports have it that the company is planning to apply for other connections too as soon as railway service authorities call for offers.