National passenger carrier Air India hopes to save up to Rs 10 crore per annum by not serving non-vegetarian meals on all its domestic economy class flights. According to a senior airline official, the move is consistent with its earlier decision to stop serving non-vegetarian meals on flights of less than 90 minutes. “The initial estimates with us show that around Rs 8-10 crore can be saved through this move,” sources told IANS adding that the move has been implemented since last week “This is also consistent with our earlier move to stop serving non-veg meals on flights with duration of less than 90 minutes. The benefits of the move vary from the fact that it improves on board catering services and reduces food wastage.”
The senior official who wished not to be named said that the step is skewed in favour of prevailing passenger demand. “In the recent past we have seen a new trend of passenger pre-dominantly choosing vegetarian meals on board the particular segment,” the official said. The official added that the move also reduces the cabin weight, thereby saving more fuel and to allow the crew to provide better on board service. However, business class passengers on domestic flights would still have an option to choose between vegetarian and non-vegetarian meals on domestic flights. On the other hand, sectoral experts are of the view that the move might become counter-productive as the plan which only offers measly savings might turn away passengers.
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As a legacy airline, AI includes the meal cost in its overall ticket price, whereas budget passenger carrier charge for meals on board. On official level, G. Prasada Rao, General Manager, Corporate Communication department, AI told IANS: “Air India has taken a conscious decision not to have non-vegetarian meals in economy class on its domestic flights. We are trying to rationalise our catering service and reduce food wastage.” “The airline is trying its best to save cost on all fronts.” Not surprisingly the move comes after the June 28 decision of the Union cabinet which gave its in-principle approval for divestment of AI, whose debt has mounted to Rs 50,000 crore besides huge losses. Similarly, in 2016, the flag-carrier had stopped serving non-vegetarian meals to economy class passengers on short duration (around 90 minutes) domestic flights.