Furore! Within hours, Air India reverses decision to serve only vegetarian ‘special meals’ to pilots

Air India pilots were a ruffled lot on Tuesday after the airline asked its caterers to serve only vegetarian special meals to them but within hours, reversed the decision following a furore, officials said. An Air India spokesperson said a typo-error in the communication sent out to the caterers had created confusion among the pilots. The national carrier provides meals to its pilots from different kitchens. One set of meals – both vegetarian and non-vegetarian – is the same as that served to the passengers and cabin crew members. Another set of meals, generally called special meals, is supplied from a different kitchen. An airline official said two sets of meals from two different kitchens are provided for the pilots in line with international practice to safeguard against the possibility of both commander and co-pilot falling sick in the event of food poisoning. While both vegetarian and non-vegetarian dishes are provided under special meals, the communication had directed caterers only to serve vegetarian, according to an airline crew. Within hours of issuing it, the airline withdrew the communication as it had triggered a furore among the pilots, officials said. The controversy over the communication on July 10 happened at a time when there is a simmering discontent among a section of pilots following the airlines decision to cut down on certain entitlements for them. In July last year, Air India decided to stop serving non-vegetarian meals to economy class passengers on domestic flights as part of cost cutting measures.


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