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No meal services on domestic flights under two hours

In an office memorandum Monday, the Ministry of Civil Aviation said, “The Ministry of Civil Aviation, considering the increasing threat of Covid-19 and its variants, has decided to review onboard meal services in domestic flight operations”.

Written by Pranav Mukul | New Delhi |
Updated: April 13, 2021 5:08:50 am

As the second wave of Covid-19 intensifies, the Centre has said that onboard meals will not be allowed on flights with duration of under two hours, with a set of guidelines including staggered service, use of only disposable utensils, etc. to be followed by airlines in case of flights that are two hours or longer in duration.

In an office memorandum Monday, the Ministry of Civil Aviation said, “The Ministry of Civil Aviation, considering the increasing threat of Covid-19 and its variants, has decided to review onboard meal services in domestic flight operations”.

The new norms for in-flight meals will be applicable from April 15.

As per official data from the Health Ministry, as of Monday, 8am, India had 12,01,009 active Covid-19 cases, a rise of 92,922 cases compared with a day ago.

According to a Civil Aviation Ministry official, the decision to ban meals on part of the domestic flights has come as a result of the growing fears of Covid-19 spread during the flight, given that passengers consuming meals on board remove masks and face-shields to do so. The official added that no decision was taken to ban meals on international flights as of now.

For flights longer than two hours, the government has asked airlines to serve meals in a staggered manner for adjacent seats as far as possible to reduce the incidence of a larger number of people in a flight removing masks together. “In all classes, tray set-up, plates and cutlery will be completely disposable with no re-use, or cleaned and disinfected rotables will be used,” the ministry noted in its order.

India is currently witnessing a footfall of a little over four lakh every day at its airports for domestic flights.

Airline executives expressed displeasure at the move but said they would implement the government’s orders. “On board meals is a significant revenue stream for airlines,” a senior executive at a low-cost airline said.

Former SpiceJet and Vistara executive Sanjiv Kapoor said the decision was a “good move”.

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