In a leaked internal memo, Air India has told its cabin crew and pilots that they will now only have access to special low-fat crew meals onboard flights. A spokesperson for the state-owned flag carrier confirmed the move, saying the new initiative was being introduced to help crew remain fit and healthy. The crew meals will be both low in fat and cholesterol.
Air India has faced criticism in the past for forcing overweight cabin crew onto low-fat diets. In January 2017, nearly 60 flight attendants were faced with the threat of dismissal because they “had a higher-than-permitted body mass index (BMI, the ratio of weight and height of an individual).”
The overweight flight attendants were declared unfit to fly for at least six months and given 18-months to slim down or face being sacked. At the time, Air India cited rules laid down by the country’s Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) which allows them to manage their cabin crew in this way.
In this latest initiative to slim down its inflight crew, the leaked memo tells staff:
“Taking into consideration the health factor of the crew, an initiative has been taken by the Director (Operations) to revise the in-flight food menu for the crew members. In view of the above, special low-fat diet meal crew has been worked out on day-wise basis in order to provide light and healthy meal with a home (Indian) touch.”
The new low-fat meals started being loaded onto flights as of Monday on services departing from Dehli and Mumbai. Other airports may follow in the future. The meals are being provided for both cabin crew and pilots.
The Time of India reports that sample breakfast dishes include Nutri Peas Bhurji, Besan Chilla, and Idli-Sambar or oats for vegetarians. Other options include a Mushroom Egg White Omelette, Oats Frittata of Egg white and an Asparagus Egg White Frittata.
Air India isn’t alone…
Air India isn’t the only airline to have taken such a tough stance with overweight cabin crew. It was also revealed in 2017 that Malaysia Airlines had sacked five of its flight attendants because they had “continuously failed to achieve their ideal weight as per the company’s grooming manual.”
A further 30 flight attendants also faced disciplinary action for the same reason. In January, Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) told its flight attendants that anyone above the “desired weight” would have to lose at least 5 lbs every month until they hit the target weight.
And a group of flight attendants at Russian carrier Aeroflot lost an employment case in which they alleged they were discriminated against for being “old, fat and ugly”.
“Everyone older than 40 or with clothing size larger than small or medium was taken off international flights,” claimed one of the flight attendants who brought the case. A Moscow court, however, sided with the airline and a spokesperson for Aeroflot said at the time that it did not discriminate.