Saturday, September 05, 2020

Flight kitchens gear up to serve hot meals to Indian carriers

Mumbai:After a gap of five months, flight kitchens in Mumbai, Delhi, Bengaluru and other cities will begin producing hot meals for Indian carriers from next week. Though it’s a small step in their long journey towards normalcy, the kitchens have got busy adjusting to the new normal which calls for hassle-free meals, disposable cutlery, trays etc.

"Pre-COVID, our flight kitchen in Delhi used to prepare 40,000 airline meals a day, today it does 5,000 meals. For Mumbai the number was 20,000 airline meals per day and today its not more than 1,500-2,000 meals," said an official from Ambassador’s Sky Chef, which caters to airlines like Air India, apart from foreign carriers.

In the past few months, the in-flight catering company rustled up cold meals like sandwiches, breads for Air India Vande Bharat flights; meals for foreign carriers, cargo flights, international charter flights. Other in-flight catering companies, like TajSATS supplied food to frontline health care workers and took ground orders.

"Though the kitchen wasn’t closed, hot meals for in-flight dining is our mainstay. Though hot meal service has begun, it will be a very toned down version," he added.

Air India, for instance, currently plans to serve only vegetarian meals on both its international and domestic flights, across all classes. An Air India official said: "On international flights, it will be vegetable biryani with raita, salaan, bread roll, butter. We haven’t kept the non-vegetarian for now to limit the interaction between cabin crew and passengers, which is one of the government guidelines for travel during the pandemic. But the food will be sumptuous and substantial.”

On domestic Air India flights of more than 90 minute duration, snack box with items like kathi rolls, croissants, nuts etc will be served, he added.

While earlier, all food items were served on a tray, the new normal will have all items packed in bento-style into an eco-friendly, disposable box.

"The crew will heat the hot meal, put in the box. All the accompaniments, including the water bottle will be in the box. There will be no trays," he added.
04/09/20 Manju V/Times of India
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