Monday, October 11, 2021

Allow meal services on all domestic flights, TajSATS to government; inflight catering at 60% of pre-Covid level now

New Delhi: India’s biggest inflight caterer, Tata Group’s TajSATS, has asked the government to allow the resumption of meal services on all flights. Since the second wave, meal service or sale is not allowed on domestic flights of below two-hour duration. TajSATS CEO Manish Gupta has told TOI that while the company has diversified into varied businesses like home and institutional meal deliveries, “these initiatives are not enough to support our large workforce and capacities.”

Also, a significant share of international flights in and out of India is operated by Gulf carriers. A majority of these airline giants carry meals for both flights to India and back from their mega hubs in the Gulf. They do not take meal uplift from Indian flight caterers for the India-Gulf leg.

“The current business scenario is still very bleak as the number of international flights is only 30% of pre covid times. Although the number of domestic flights has risen to almost 70% of pre covid era, the uptake of meals is less than 50% since the restrictions on foodservice for less than two hours flight continues,” Gupta said.

Currently flight catering business in India is at 60% of pre-pandemic levels, recovering from a nadir of 21% last year. “We have been trying to make up our losses by diversifying into other areas like institutional catering, home deliveries, supplying products like chocolates and sweets. However, these initiatives are not enough to support our large workforce and capacities. We have reduced our expenses in the best way we could without implementing any layoffs, hoping for the business revival to happen soon,” Gupta said.

The government decision to allow international tourists flying on charters from mid-October is expected to revive the charter business. “In cities like Goa, which were majorly dependent on international charters, the overall business is still only 30% of (pre-Covid times).

10/10/21 Saurabh Sinha/Times of India

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