Air India loads return-flight food from the country to save on catering costs abroad
Air India has said the airline has started carrying food from India for use during the flight's journey back to the country in an attempt to rationalise catering costs on international flights.
AI chairman and managing director Pradeep Singh Kharola made this announcement on Wednesday.
The loss-making airline has started using food stocked from India during its onward journey to Stockholm, Copenhagen, Birmingham and Madrid, and use these when returning.
'The food is taken from here in India in chillers and then it is heated whenever it has to be used.... Catering costs for us are around Rs 600 crore to Rs 800 crore a year. Catering in India is three to four times cheaper as compared to catering in the West,' Kharola said.
In a few months, Air India will also start serving food from India on its flights returning from the Gulf region, he added.
As a cost-cutting measure, Air India decided in July 2017 not to serve non-vegetarian food to economy class passengers on its domestic flights.
'There are some flights like the ones going to the Gulf, Singapore and even some parts of Europe, where it is possible to upload the food here (in India) only. Some work is going on in that direction,' Kharola said.
He added that European caterers 'can't match with the Indian caterer' in taste, especially in Indian food. 'That is the additional benefit we get. The main thing is that the costs come down drastically,' the CMD said.
The portion of the food given to passengers would remain the same.
When he was asked how much Air India would be able to save with this measure, Kharola said these were early days and the programme would expand.
Air India is estimated to have a debt burden of more than Rs 48,000 crore and the government's efforts for strategic disinvestment of the flag carrier failed in May last year. It has been making losses since the merger with Indian Airlines in 2007.