Home >News >India >Airlines can’t serve meals if flight time is less than 2 hours

NEW DELHI : The ministry of civil aviation on Monday banned meal services on board flights with a travel duration of less than two hours.

The ban aims to minimize instances of passengers taking off masks, which are an essential part of the measures taken to contain the spread of the covid-19 pandemic amid a surge in cases in the country.

The ban will come into effect from 15 April.

“Airlines operating flights on domestic sectors may provide meal services on board wherein the flight duration is two hours or more," ministry joint secretary Usha Padhee said in a notification on Monday. A copy of the notification has been reviewed by Mint.

Airlines are now allowed to serve in-flight meals in disposable plates, while beverages will no longer be poured but will be pre-served in disposable cups. “Crew shall wear a fresh set of gloves for each meal/beverage service," the notification said.

India has overtaken Brazil to become the country that is the second-most affected by the coronavirus, with the US being the most affected.

India’s overall tally reached 13.5 million, surpassing Brazil’s 13.4 million cases, according to data compiled by Reuters. The US leads the global tally with 31.2 million cases.

Air travel is considered safer than other modes of travel in terms of the transmission of the virus, but minimum in-flight exposure by keeping masks on further mitigates potential risks.

“This is a much-needed move, one that removes a glaring loophole where people would use meal service as an excuse to take their masks off for the whole flight while eating/drinking as slowly as possible, making the life of cabin crew difficult," said aviation industry veteran Sanjiv Kapoor, formerly chief strategy and commercial officer at Vistara, and former chief operating officer at SpiceJet.

“However, to make it feasible to serve meals in a staggered manner, the cut-off should be for flights longer than three hours’ flying time. People can plan accordingly for flights shorter than three hours," Kapoor said.

The Indian aviation sector, which has been recovering after the nationwide lockdown last year by registering steady monthly growth, now faces a massive challenge for a turnaround amid a second wave of coronavirus cases.

Subscribe to Mint Newsletters
* Enter a valid email
* Thank you for subscribing to our newsletter.

Never miss a story! Stay connected and informed with Mint. Download our App Now!!

Edit Profile
My ReadsRedeem a Gift CardLogout