Air India stops non-vegetarian meals for domestic economy class


Passengers flying economy class with Air India on domestic routes won’t be served non- vegetarian food as the carrier wants to cut down on costs and stop wastage.

“This is an attempt to rationalise costs. We have also realised that this will reduce wastage to a great extent because we carry extra vegetarian and non-vegetarian meals,” Air India CMD Ashwani Lohani told PTI.

He said that the airline will be taking more such steps in future to reduce its expenses, including in the catering department.

Serving one type of meal to passengers in economy class will also make the job of crew members “simpler”, Lohani said.

An airline spokesperson told television channels that the decision was taken last week.

“On domestic flights, majority of which are less than two hours long, a meal is just an add on and not really worthy of a major concern,” Lohani later wrote on his Facebook page after the airline’s latest move triggered a debate.

An Air India official, who did not wished to be named, explained the move, “70 per cent of our meals are veg. Most Indian passengers opt for the veg meal and there are hardly any takers for the non-veg meal. Also, you can’t serve non-veg to a vegetarian but vice versa is possible.”

The official also said that this will help avoid arguments between crew members and passengers if they insist on a particular kind of meal, which may have been exhausted.

A former airline official explained how restricting choice of food onboard a plane paves the way for a hassle-free service.

“When you have just one type of meal to offer then you can just start from one end (of the aircraft) and finish at the other end, which helps you improve efficiency. Secondly, if you offer a choice then you have to ask a customer whether he or she prefers vegetarian or non-vegetarian, which is a more time-consuming exercise.

“Thirdly, so that you don’t run out of either the vegetarian or non-vegetarian meals you carry surplus food, which adds to wastage.”

Other cost cutting measures

Last year, Air India replaced veg and non-veg sandwiches with veg hot meals on flights of up to 90 minutes duration. It had also decided to strike off both tea and coffee from its lunch and dinner menu.

Last month the AI CMD had appealed to senior executives to work towards boosting the airline’s revenue at a time it is saddled with a debt of Rs 52,000 crore.

In response to this, an official had suggested that the airline could do away with salad in meals on international flights and carry fewer copies of Air India’s in-flight magazine.

Published on 11 July 2017

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