Removing salads from meals for economy class passengers on international flights and carrying fewer copies of in-flight magazine on board are among the cost-saving tips from the staff of beleaguered Air India. These suggestions were made after Air India CMD Ashwani Lohani exhorted his senior executives to become “aggressive commercially and display a major spurt in revenues”. With government looking at disinvestment and louder calls against committing more taxpayers’ money into the carrier, Lohani in a recent internal communication remarked that the airlines’ huge debt made him “feel like a loser”. Following the communication, a senior airline official wrote to the CMD with staff feedback, including a cabin crew in-charge, on how salads often go a waste on international flights. “In my flight today, the CIC (cabin in-charge) was talking to me and suggested some ways to reduce costs. One was that in international flights in Y class (economy class), he found only 20 per cent eating the salad. He felt we must discontinue salad in Y class on international flights,” the official said. Another suggestion was to carry fewer copies of the in-flight magazine in order to reduce the total load, which would help in reducing the fuel costs.
“He (CIC) also felt that we must carry only around 25 copies of ‘Shubh Yatra’ (in-flight magazine) in a flight which can be kept in the magazine racks rather than on every seat to reduce weight,” the official wrote to Lohani. Besides, the official’s communication has listed various examples of how other airlines resorted to ideas that helped in reducing the overall load. The official said that a domestic budget carrier had decided to do away with curtains in front of the cockpit door and also removed curtain hooks, as part of efforts to bring down the plane’s weight and in turn, reduce operational costs.
The communication comes at a time when Air India is saddled with more than Rs 50,000 crore debt and the government is looking at ways of revival, including possible privatisation. Many airlines world over are known for coming up with novel ways to cut costs, majority of which is accounted for by fuel bill. A few years ago, a domestic airline decided to employ only female flight attendants on weight grounds. In the 1980s, an American carrier found that if one olive was removed from every salad served to the passengers, it would save up to USD 40,000 a year.