It has been a tough few months for Indian airlines due to rising fuel costs. As a result, airlines are exploring every opportunity to cuts costs. And one key benefit that has been in the spotlight is in-flight catering. It all started with Air India going all-vegetarian on short routes. Next came Jet Airways, who switched to snack boxes, and Vistara announcing meal-less Lite fares this week.
Lets circle back to Air India, then. In it’s latest move to cut costs, Air India has decided to replace fresh food with packaged options on flights which are less than one-hour long. This means that instead of greasy samosas and pakoras, you’ll get pre-packed cookies and nuts onboard.
A senior Air India official has been quoted that this course of action is to address passenger complaints about being served spoilt food. Further, he states that passengers can pick these new snacks on their way on the aircraft, and they went to great extent to state that there are no direct savings on costs due to this switch. Read this Times of India article for more details.
For Air India, while there may or may not be saving on the cost of food, this change would bring down operational cost. Air India expects that by eliminating trays, they would cut weight which will lower the fuel bill. And with packed foods having a longer shelf life, the airline wouldn’t need to load food onto the aircraft or trash spoilt food as often as before.
[Editor’s Note: Air India is also hoping perhaps you will forget that pack of nuts and not ask for it later. Another small saving. What they could have done is to go around distributing the snack once the aircraft started to cruise, just like other airlines do]
A segment of flyers are going to get unhappy with this move, but we should not forget that airlines around the world have been serving packaged snacks for quite some time now. All this does is align Air India with other international airlines when it comes to facing the harsh realities of running an airline.
Air India’s decision to switch to pre-packed snacks comes on the back of increasing costs. Though the airline has not yet announced when this change comes into effect, it would be interesting to see if other airlines would follow suit, further cutting down on their catering.
If you have experienced your Air India flight of peanuts, do send us a picture at firstname.lastname@example.org so that we can share images.