NEW DELHI: Amid uncertainty over salary payment, Air India pilots were served another surprise recently when the airline asked flight caterers to supply only vegetarian meals for them on aircraft. Fortunately, this order did not last long and was withdrawn immediately. This short-lived confusion was brightened by a mail issued by the airline’s catering section on July 10 that the ‘special’ meals on AI flights for pilots were to be all-veg with immediate effect. Pilot meals are meant for the flight’s co-pilot and commander.
Air India imposes only veg meals for pilots by mistake, withdraws with immediate effect
Exactly a year back, I had started giving all-veg meals to economy class passengers on its domestic flights as a cost-cutting remedy which leads to a saving of about Rs 8 crore annually. Non-veg continues to be served on business class of domestic and all classes of AI’s international flights.
However, an AI commander said the now-withdrawn veg-meals-for-pilots order would not have meant that pilots couldn't access to non-veg meals. “All airlines globally take separate meals for pilots and crew members whose flight caterer may be different from the one supplying meals for passengers. The idea is that God forbid if meals to passenger meals lead to some issue like food poisoning, the crew is unharmed and is able to land the plane safely. The details of how meal separation for crew is done is something that cannot be shared due to safety reasons,” the official said.
As, a number of crew meals are taken on a flight which are both veg and non-veg. The meals designated for pilots in this separate crew meal would have been all-veg as per the order. The logic: veg meal can be had by non-veg also but not vice-versa. From this lot, the pilot could have opted for a non-veg crew meal.
However with this order being withdrawn, AI pilots can at least continue to get the meal of their choice on flights.