From the Viewsroom

All for some chicken feed

Ashwini Phadnis | Updated on January 11, 2018

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Not serving non-veg food won’t save much for Air India

Air India’s decision to offer only vegetarian meals to economy class passengers on domestic flights is nothing but bizarre. When the world over and even closer home airlines such as Vistara are using food as their USP to attract more passengers, Air India seems to have thought of something that the entire industry does not even think worthy of considering.

Worse are the reasons it’s giving – annual savings of ₹7-8 crore, reduction of wastage, and difficulty in separating vegetarian and non-vegetarian meals. Given that food served on an aircraft accounts only for a minuscule portion of an airline’s operations cost, Air India’s argument about savings does not cut much ice. Surely there are better ways of doing this instead of pushing customers away? On the issue of food waste, Air India should know that there are various organisations such as ChefAir that collect leftovers, segregate it and then distribute it to various charitable organisations such as the Missionaries of Charity. The reasoning that it is difficult to separate vegetarian and non-vegetarian meals is so absurd that it does not even merit a counter-argument except to reiterate what one flyer tweeted: if we can’t trust the airline to separate its meals can we trust it to fly us from one place to another?

Will Air India also offer lower fares as it is now no longer serving non-vegetarian meals and tea or coffee with meals? Will it deboard or deny boarding to a passenger who decides to bring along a non-vegetarian item for his meal? Is it going to start checking our bags for meat? If Air India is keen on going fully vegetarian, it should brand itself as the world’s only vegetarian airline, like the now defunct MDLR airlines did in the late 2000s. Possibly this rebranding will get Air India some loyal vegetarian flyers and bring in much needed revenue so that it no longer need resort to juvenile moves such as not serving non-vegetarian meals.

Senior Deputy Editor

Published on July 13, 2017

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