Thursday, January 10, 2019

Has airline food in India taken off? Here is a second(s) opinion

Indian palate is difficult to please and no matter what is served up, the expectations are always high. It is not uncommon that passengers have taken to social media to express their displeasure on the food quality, often comparing with some five-star restaurant meals, realising little that the ticket they paid for is at par with the five-star meals!

Half a decade ago, airlines were competing to expand the menu offerings and pack the contents innovatively. IndiGo was at the forefront with quirky branding – with sandwich packing being branded as Airwich or Tiffin and the subs being branded as yellow submarines.

Jet Airways came up with Krispy Kreme donuts as part of the meals and GoAir tied up with CafĂ© Coffee Day for their meal offerings. While the branding continues, the menu has made a hasty retreat in the last few quarters. From having large offerings of fresh products to having a large offering of ready to eat products – the fresh food options for travelers are diminishing rapidly.

The last two years have also been characterised by financial challenges for the airlines in India. Air India has been in perpetual turnaround mode and the government couldn’t find suitors for its sale. Jet Airways was surviving from income generated from the sale of Jet Privilege – its loyalty program and the land in Bandra Kurla complex, while SpiceJet was just about recuperating from its near death at the end of 2014. The delay in deliveries of the A320neos led to reduced income from Sale & Leaseback for IndiGo and GoAir. All this coincided with the increase in fuel price which put further pressure on the airlines, already operating on a wafer-thin margin.
10/01/19 Ameya Joshi/CNBC TV18