From January 1, Air India will serve only vegetarian hot meals in the economy class on its domestic flights with a flying time of 61 to 90 minutes.
A circular has been issued to the Air India cabin crew by Captain DX Pais, general manager( cabin crew, Air India). The circular reads, “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.”
Tea and coffee too will be off the menu in lunch and dinner time flights.
“For flights departing at hours outside the above timings, an appropriate meal is uplifted, based on the scheduled time of departure of the flight,” reads a note on Air India’s website.
The circular soon began making the rounds on social media with several criticising the airline for ‘serving only veg food during short-duration flights.
Even former J-K chief minister Omar Abdullah questioned the decision of Air India to serve only vegetarian meals on short duration flights.
AirIndia won't serve non-veg food,tea/coffee on short flights to "save time".Chicken sandwich takes longer to be served than paneer?@ibnlive— palki sharma (@palkisu) December 26, 2015
People are questioning AirIndia's move to serve veg in domestic flights for economic reasons. This is why govt should not be in business.— AristocRatty (@YearOfRat) December 26, 2015
So now only veg food options in our national carrier #airindia for shorter domestic tours! am fine as long as what they serve is hygiene— Ms Crazy Rover! (@mallika_dutt1) December 26, 2015
#SanskariJamesBond flies Air India economy and only chooses Veg Meal— Gaurav Merchant (@gmerchan80) November 18, 2015
Following the uproar on Twitter, Air India CMD Ashwani Lohani clarified that Air India currently provides only cold vegetable snacks on 60-90 minute flights, but from the New year, the airline will serve proper hot meals.
Lohani denied reports that non-veg meals will be excluded from the flight and maintained that there is no change in the previous orders but rather some upgrades have been made.
Minister of state for civil aviation Mahesh Sharma too jumped into the defence of the national carrier. He said the circular was misinterpreted and reiterated that non-veg was not in the category of 60-90 minute flight snacks earlier too.
“It has been misinterpreted. The real truth is that in short halt flights where the time span is between 60-90 minutes, we used to serve sandwiches and snacks which used to be vegetarian. Only thing was that there was a long demand that there should be some hot food as well,” Sharma was quoted as saying by ANI.
Air India has five categories of flights on its domestic sectors — breakfast from 5.30 am to 9.30am, high-tea from 9.30 am to 11.30 am and 3 pm to 6.30 pm, lunch from 12 noon to 2.30 pm, dinner from 6.30 pm to 10.30 pm and supper from 11 pm onwards.