Come January 1, government-run Air India will no longer serve non-vegetarian food to its economy class passengers on flights of up to 90 minutes duration.
The national carrier has also decided to strike off both tea and coffee from its lunch and dinner menu.
As of now, Air India serves sandwiches (both vegetarian and non-vegetarian) and cake on its flights of up to 90 minutes duration, which will be discontinued from January 1, 2016, and replaced with an “all vegetarian” hot meal, an airline 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,” the circular issued late last week said.
Flights to most of the non-metro routes fall in this category.
While Air India has defended the move saying it has upgraded the meals, travel industry experts said the decision was unilateral.
“We have, in fact, upgraded and improved the meals. So far, we were serving only sandwiches and cakes, which will now be replaced with hot meals,” a senior airline official said.
“With 150-odd passengers onboard and just two crew cabin members to serve, at times it becomes difficult to cater as per the passenger’s choice in such short-duration flights,” he said.
In a statement, Air India said it presently provided cold vegetarian snacks on flights of 61 to 90 minutes flights duration.
“Air India will now be serving proper hot vegetarian meals on these 60 to 90 minutes flights.There will be a review after obtaining passengers’ feedback. On flights exceeding 90 minutes, the present choice of veg and non-veg meals will continue,” it said.
Former Jammu and Kashmir chief minister Omar Abdullah today questioned the decision of Air India to serve only vegetarian meals on short duration flights.
Air India had flown 1.18 million passengers with a market share of 16.2 per cent in the previous month.