Air India to serve vegetarian meals in domestic flights to cut cost

Air India to serve vegetarian meals in domestic flights to cut cost
This file photo taken on September 8, 2012 shows Air India planes preparing for take-off at Indira Gandhi International Airport in New Delhi.

In an effort to cut cost and avoid mix-up of meals, national carrier Air India will now only serve vegetarian meals to passengers on flights lasting up to 90 minutes, according to media reports.

"We have decided to serve vegetarian meals in our economy-class seats on domestic flights," Air India Chairman and Managing Director Ashwani Lohani was quoted as saying by a news agency.

The airline will continue to serve non-vegetarian meals in its business class and executive class seats on all domestic and international flights.

"Air India has taken conscious decision not to have non vegetarian meal in economy class on its domestic flights to reduce wastage, reduce cost and improve catering service," AI spokesman GP Rao was quoted as saying by a news agency.

The move comes as AI's debt burden of over Rs. 52,000 crore (S$8.1 billion) and mounting losses have led the government to decide to sell it off. IndiGo has already given a formal expression of interest to buy the international operations of AI and AI Express.

Last month, AI employees had given a number of cost-cutting measures to the management to turn around the airline and prevent its privatisation.

Last year, a ruckus occurred on a Shanghai-Delhi-Mumbai flight of Air India after some passengers complained about being served non-vegetarian food instead of their preferred choice of vegetarian food.

Air India now spends Rs.400 crore on catering on its domestic and international flights every year, an Air India executive said.

Last year, Air India had stopped serving non-vegetarian food to its economy-class passengers on flights lasting up to 90 minutes.

It also took tea and coffee off the lunch and dinner menus as a cost-cutting measure. But it allowed the passengers to opt for either vegetarian or non-vegetarian meals on all domestic flights exceeding 90 minutes.

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