Sky goes green: Airlines drop chicken from platter
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Sky goes green: Airlines drop chicken from platter

After bird flu struck India, airlines have grounded chicken, write Chanchal Pal Chauhan and Rajendra Aklekar.

india Updated: Feb 20, 2006 01:34 IST

Within a day of bird flu striking India, airlines — both international and domestic — have grounded chicken. As a precautionary measure, some airline menus are going fully vegetarian while others are serving alternatives like mutton, fish and prawn.

Jet Airways, the country’s biggest private airline, was the first to go vegetarian. “We will be serving only vegetable meals for all courses for a few days. Chicken is an important part of our menu but keeping passenger safety in mind, we have stopped all such meals from last night,” said Saroj Datta, executive director, Jet Airways.

Air Sahara and Indian (Airlines) too have almost gone vegetarian, serving only a few mutton dishes, that too only on passenger demand.

All in-flight food and catering services at Mumbai airport — which also serve a large number of international carriers (apart from different five star hotels) — have also stopped serving chicken. According to an official with TajSats, the biggest in-flight caterer with over 30 airlines as clients, they have been asked to stop using chicken in their preparations. “With avian influenza news confirmed, we have stopped loading continental chicken dishes on aircraft we are serving from Sunday morning. To meet the diverse menus of different airlines, we have swapped these with mutton and fish items.”

Other catering services like Oberoi Inflight and Ambassador Sky Chef have also dropped chicken from their menus.

Normally, menus are changed every four months. But this time, chicken has been deleted from the food list as a precaution under the public health emergency plan (recommended by the International Air Transport Association).

Jitender Bhargava, director (PR), Air-India, told HT: “We are taking abundant caution. The changes have been carried out as per the directives of national health authorities and alternative non-vegetarian options have been made to meet passenger preferences.”

Medical check-up of passengers hasn’t started as yet in Mumbai airport but quarantine services have been beefed up to meet any contingency. “It is not alarming yet but we have put all medical services in place. We are waiting for directions from the Union health ministry to undertake medical checks. A meeting of the aerodrome committee is likely to gear up for this situation under the Emergency Response Plan,” said a senior airport director.

Essential services like flight operations, in-flight services, maintenance, airports, cargo, station and passenger handling, and operations control will all be covered under ERP (different medical teams will be established) to deal with public health requirements.

Meanwhile, the Railways too have taken chicken off their menu in all trains leaving Mumbai. “We are taking precautions following the scare. The Rajdhanis and Shatabdis have suspended serving chicken till further notice from today. Let us see how things shape up. For the time being, we have taken this decision. We will meet later to discuss the issue. Even with eggs, we are giving passengers the choice,” said Pranai Prabhakar, chief PRO, Western Railway.

First Published: Feb 20, 2006 01:34 IST