The aviation sector in India has a history of being challenging and controversial. Earlier this year India’s second largest airline, Jet Airways, ceased trading which left Air India as the sole major international carrier in India. With debts mounting to over $8 billion, Air India has a tough uphill challenge to turn its fortunes around.
Now the airline is putting its flight attendants on low-fat diet meals inflight. You would be mistaken for thinking that this could be another controversial move aimed at maintaining specific weight limits for crew. In 2009 Air India dismissed 10 female cabin crew for being “overweight” after moving them to ground crew roles.
However, the latest move may be more about saving money rather than keeping crew “in shape.” Air India declined to comment on reports that the new meals, which are mostly vegetarian, will reduce each meal cost by up to 65%.
Despite this, there will still be a debate about whether or not the move by Air India is in fact to prevent staff putting on weight. After firing 10 employees in 2009 the Indian carrier again came into the spotlight in 2015 when the airline insisted that 125 flight attendants should lose weight or face the prospect of ground roles.
The airline maintains that the rationale in the past has been “safety issues,” but with the new low-fat meals completely replacing the current options for flight attendants, this latest shift doesn’t seem like an additional option for crew wellbeing, but perhaps a split between saving cash and shedding weight, literally and metaphorically.