Desperate times! Air India staff goes economical by removing salad from economy class meals

India’s national airlines Air India is flying through tough times, and in order to cut down costs, its employees have decided to employ drastic measures, including taking off salad from meals served in economy class on international flights, and carrying fewer magazines on planes so that the planes are lighter and burn less fuel.

However, these measures won’t go too far in handling the debt load of over Rs 52,000 crore, especially when the government has decided to sell off the airline.

As per a senior AI official’s internal mail sent to top management, a cabin crew in-charge walked up to him on a recent flight and suggested some cost-cutting moves.

"One was that in international flights economy class, he found only 20% eating salad. He (the cabin crew) felt we must discontinue salad in economy class on international flights. He also felt that we must carry only around 25 copies of Shubh Yatra (AI's insight magazine) in a flight which can be kept in the magazine racks rather than on every seat to reduce weight," says the mail.

"He also mentioned that his friends from IndiGo had told him how cost conscious (budget airlines) are. IndiGo first removed curtain in front of the cockpit door to reduce weight. When cockpit door is open a crew stands there. He says after a few weeks they even removed the curtain hooks as they felt that also adds to the weight. It may seem trivial but it is part of the resolve to reduce weight and remember the well known saying that drops make an ocean," it adds.


"He (the cabin crew) felt all departments must contribute like this to help the company.... We have a few more months to prove ourselves. Air Indians will rise like a Goliath and prove our detractors wrong. Friends, Let us all resolve to increase revenues and decrease costs in a war like manner. Together we will win," the mail says.

One of AI's senior pilots, Subhashish Majumdar, has even written a letter to the aviation ministry brass and airline management, in which he had suggested ways to save the airlines from crashing head-first.

These measures involve "selling peripheral assets" to cut debt, selling partial stake in AI ground handling and engineering subsidiaries, viz. AI Express and Alliance Air.

"The company must invest and incur capital expenditure to reconfigure its long haul aircraft to increase premium seating capacity and upgrade its premium product on long haul routes. This is the tried and tested revenue model that saved Japan Airlines from imminent bankruptcy," said Majumdar's mail.