26/12/2015 3:22 PM IST | Updated 15/07/2016 8:25 AM IST

Air India Has Always Served Vegetarian Food On Short Flights: Mahesh Sharma

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UPDATE: Since the original story about Air India no longer serving non-vegetarian food was published, Minister of State for Civil Aviation Mahesh Sharma has clarified that the airline has always served vegetarian sandwiches and snacks on short flights between 60 to 90 minutes.

"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 told ANI.

"As a process of that we have started hot foods. In the long duration flights of more than 90 minutes, everything will remain same. Only part is that we have upgraded the issues as the new year is coming, and therefore some innovations have to be there. So, there is no change in the previous orders. Only thing is that some up-gradation has been put. Non-vegetarian food was earlier not there and at present is also not there," he said.

Air India Won't Serve Non-Vegetarian Food On Short Flights Anymore

Press Trust of India

NEW DELHI -- Come January 1, loss-making government-run Air India will not serve non-vegetarian food to its economy class passengers on flights upto 90 minutes duration.

The national carrier has also decided to strike off both tea and coffee from its lunch and dinner menu.

As of now, Air India serves sandwich (both vegetarian and non-vegetarian) and cake on its flights, which are up to 90 minutes of duration, which will be discontinued from January 1, 2016, replaced with "all vegetarian" hot meal, an airline circular said.

"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." the circular issued late last week said.

Flights to most of the non-metro routes fall in this category.

While Air India has defended the move saying it has upgraded the meals, a travel industry expert said the decision is unilateral.

"We have, in fact, upgraded and improved the meals. So far, we were serving only sandwiches and cakes, which have now be replaced with hot meals," a senior airline official said.

He said, with 150-odd passengers onboard and just two crew cabin members to serve, "at times it becomes difficult to cater as per the passenger's choice in such short-duration flights."

However, according to travel industry expert Rajji Rai, the state-owned airline should have first carried out a passenger survey, which is an industry practice, before affecting any change in the menu.

"Airlines world over carry out customer surveys before taking such decisions. Unfortunately, Air India is very poor in such practices. This decision to discontinue non-vegetarian food on these non-metro flights is just one-sided," he said.

But former Jammu and Kashmir chief minister Omar Abdullah questioned Air India's decision.

Air India had flown 1.18-million passengers with a market share of 16.2 per cent in the previous month.

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