New Delhi: Air India has decided to serve only vegetarian hot meals on its domestic flights in economy class with a flying time of 60 to 90 minutes from January 1, Air India officials said on Saturday.
A circular said, “It has been decided to provide all Indian vegetarian hot meals in economy class on all domestic sector flights between 61 and 90 minutes duration from January 1, 2016.”
Tea and coffee too will be off lunch- and dinner-time flights. On longer flights, the airline says it serves both veg and non-veg meals and will continue to do so.
AI chairman Ashwani Lohani denied that the airline is shifting from non-veg to veg-alone meals from January 1. “At present also, AI serves veg meals on flights upto 90 minutes but that is given cold. We are improving our meal service and will now serve hot veg meals on flights that have duration of 60 to 90 minutes, instead of cold meals,” Lohani said.
Reacting to reports that AI is now shifting to veg-only meals on short flights, he said “I don’t understand what is issue? We are only replacing cold veg with hot veg meals on some flights, a logical thing to do in winter. This is what people want.”
About three to four years back, cash-strapped AI had in a cost-cutting move decided not to serve meals on flights of less than an hour and instead just give peanuts, biscuits and a beverage. Later the airline altered this practice and started giving sandwiches and a cake slice. Now, Lohani has decided to go on for hot meals from January 1 on flights that have a duration of 60 to 90 minutes.
AI officials said that flights of up to 90 minutes are short flights as the actual meal serving time on them after deducting the ground movement time during takeoff and landing; time when aircraft is ascending to cruise level after taking off and then descending for landing is less.
“On up to an hour flights, our cruise time when we can have meal service is about 40 minutes and on up to 90-minute flights, it is about 70-75 minutes. There have been some instances when hurriedly serving meals during this short time, veg passengers have been given non-veg meals. This is a situation best avoided as non-veg flyers can have veg but not vice-versa,” said an official. Recently, AI had to take action against some crew members who gave non-veg meals to veg passengers on a flight.
Other airlines, however, offer passengers a choice of both veg and non-veg meals on their flights.