Air India says non-veg food was never served on short duration flights

Air India chief clarified that the airlines will serve hot vegetarian meals instead of the previous cold vegetarian snacks.

Updated - March 24, 2016 12:13 pm IST

Published - December 26, 2015 05:55 pm IST - New Delhi

Chennai: An Air India flight taking off  from runway after the air port was suspended from operations last week, following waterlogging caused by heavy rainfall in Chennai on Sunday. PTI Photo by R Senthil Kumar(PTI12_6_2015_000172B)

Chennai: An Air India flight taking off from runway after the air port was suspended from operations last week, following waterlogging caused by heavy rainfall in Chennai on Sunday. PTI Photo by R Senthil Kumar(PTI12_6_2015_000172B)

After uproar over > reports that the government-run Air India will no longer serve non-vegetarian food on its short duration domestic flights for economy class passengers, airline chief Ashwani Lohani clarified on Saturday that non-vegetarian food was never served on these flights.

He added that the airline has improved its food services and will serve hot vegetarian meals instead of cold vegetarian snacks, like pastries and sandwiches, on flights up to 90 minutes duration.

“There has been some confusion. On 61-90 minutes flights, we only serve vegetarian snacks at present. In fact, we have tried to improve the food service and instead of cold vegetarian snacks, we will be offering hot vegetarian meals,” said Air India chairman and managing director Mr. Lohani to The Hindu .

At present, full-service carriers like Air India, Jet Airways and Vistara give complimentary meals on its flights while low-cost airlines such as IndiGo, SpiceJet and GoAir offer meals on payment basis. A few years ago, the loss-making Air India had discontinued the practice of serving hot meals to economy-class passengers on flights with up to 90 minutes duration to cut-back on costs.

The controversy over non-vegetarian food broke out after Air India had issued a circular on December 23 saying hot vegetarian meals will be served on short duration flights beginning January 1, 2016. “It has been decided to provide all Indian vegetarian hot meals in economy class on domestic sector flights between 61-90 minutes duration effective 1st January 2016. There will be no tea or coffee service in lunch/dinner flight,” the circular issued by Air India’s general manager (cabin crew) DX Pais said.

Air India website mentions that the airline has always offered vegetarian refreshments for economy class passengers on flights up to 90 minutes. Hot meal is served only to executive class passengers on flights up to duration of 61-90 minutes.

Former Jammu and Kashmir chief minister Omar Abdullah questioned the move. “I am trying hard to understand the logic of this decision but I'm really struggling,” Mr. Abdullah said on Twitter, a social media website, quoting a media report which said non-vegetarian foods will not be served on short duration flights.

In a statement, Air India said, “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.”

Minister of State Civil Aviation Mahesh Sharma clarified the move has been misinterpreted. “On Air India’s short duration flights, those between 60 and 90 minutes, snacks such as sandwiches and cakes were served. We received a lot of suggestions and complaints to serve hot meals during winters so the same has been upgraded. Non-vegetarian food was not served earlier and will not be offered now. We have just upgraded the snacks. This has been misinterpreted,” Mr. Sharma told agencies.

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