Air India may start charging for food on short flights

Our Bureau New Delhi | Updated on April 21, 2014 Published on April 21, 2014

Air India plans to start charging for food served to passengers on short flights of up to 60-90 minutes duration, senior airline officials said on Sunday.

Sources told Business Line that a tender has been floated and based on its evaluation, a decision will be taken on whether or not to introduce the new system on short duration flights. Water, however, will continue to be available free of charge.

The implementation of the decision, which could be in place by the latter half of the year, could mean that for short flights, say from Chennai to either Bangalore or Hyderabad, a passenger will have to pay for food.   

The decision to consider implementing payment for food on board comes soon after Alliance Air, a 100 per cent subsidiary of Air India, introduced the concept in March this year, charging ₹40 to ₹100 for meals purchased on board. The rate which Air India plans to charge for food on board was yet to be firmed up, sources indicated.

Meanwhile, the airline will soon reissue a tender for leasing 14 Airbus A-320 aircraft, which will be able to seat 180 passengers each in an all-economy configuration. Air India hopes to take delivery of these aircraft between now and 2017.

Both the moves are being viewed as an attempt by the airline to get a larger share of the domestic low-cost market, which has been growing faster than the full-service market.

Incidentally, IndiGo, SpiceJet and JetKonnect all charge for food on their flights.

Air India is also exploring other avenues for generating ancillary revenues, including leasing out space in some of its booking offices for banks to install ATM machines. The airline plans to start with leasing out office space in Delhi and Mumbai and then extending it to cities in South India, officials said.

Published on April 21, 2014
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