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According to the Star-K,

First Class and Business Class meals are double wrapped in real chinaware and sealed with kosher certification tape. They are then sent to the airline food service caterer and served in this fashion to the traveler. After onetime kosher use, the china is cycled into the airline’s regular stock of chinaware.

Would the kosher caterer have to dunk/immerse this china in a mikva first, as is the case with ordinary newly-purchased dishware?

(Yes I'm aware that some are lenient regarding glazed earthenware, but let's leave that issue aside for now.)

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Do these dishes really belong to the kosher caterer? (If after one use they're handed over to the airline, then I would assume not - unless indeed they have an arrangement where the airline compensates the caterer for them.) If not, then this would be like the case of a Jew borrowing a utensil from a non-Jew, where it doesn't require tevilah (Shulchan Aruch, Yoreh De'ah 120:8).

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Not sure how the system works, who's buying the dishes from where. But that's very possibly the solution, they're just borrowing the brand-new dishes. – Shalom Jan 24 '11 at 18:21

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