Cash-starved Air India putting crew on low-fat diets

State-run Air India introduces new 'light and healthy' meal plan for employees on domestic and international flights.

    The Indian government is trying to sell-off Air India, which has debts of nearly $8bn [File: Mauritz Antin/EPA]
    The Indian government is trying to sell-off Air India, which has debts of nearly $8bn [File: Mauritz Antin/EPA]

    Cash-starved Air India is putting its crew on a diet, changing their inflight menu to special low-fat meals.

    Dhananjay Kumar, the state-run airline's spokesman, said on Wednesday the objective was to provide healthy and cost-effective meals to crew on domestic and international flights.

    Kumar declined to comment on media reports that the cost per meal, mostly vegetarian, will come down to one-third of existing 500-800 rupees (up to $11) a meal.

    The new menu was introduced on Monday, on flights originating from New Delhi and Mumbai and will be extended to other routes soon.

    "Special low-fat diet meals have been worked out on a day-wise basis in order to provide light and healthy meal with a home [Indian] touch," an airline statement said.

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    In 2009, the airline fired 10 female cabin crew employees for being overweight after they failed to get back in shape three years after they were switched to ground crew jobs.

    The decision over the menu change, meanwhile, comes at a time when the Indian government is trying to divest from Air India, which has debts amounting to nearly 580 billion rupees ($8bn).

    After an earlier failed attempt to sell the airline off last year, Prime Minister Narendra Modi's government is expected to try again in October.

    India has for years propped up the debt-laden airline by infusing equity to keep it alive - the government injected 39.75 billion rupees ($553m) into Air India in the fiscal year that ended on March 31.

    The country's wider aviation sector is also facing turmoil with one of its biggest private carriers, Jet Airways, filing for bankruptcy, while passenger growth in the market overall has slowed.

    SOURCE: News agencies