December 3, 2018 / 1:37 PM / 6 days ago

Jet Airways to stop free meals for most domestic economy passengers

FILE PHOTO: Jet Airways flight information is seen at check-in counters inside the international airport in Mumbai, India, August 13, 2018. REUTERS/Danish Siddiqui/File Photo

NEW DELHI (Reuters) - Jet Airways Ltd (JET.NS), India’s biggest full-service carrier, will stop providing free meals to most domestic economy class passengers from January, in the debt-laden airline’s latest move to cut costs and boost revenues.

Passengers will, instead, have the option to buy meals on board, the airline said in a statement on Monday.

“(The move) reflects the fast-evolving nature of Indian aviation, where an increasing number of guests want the freedom and flexibility to make their own travel choices,” Jet said.

Rising price warfare in India has hurt Jet which competes with no-frills, low-cost carriers like InterGlobe Aviation Ltd’s (INGL.NS) IndiGo and SpiceJet Ltd. (SPJT.BO).

Jet Airways has five categories of economy fares with different levels of benefits.

It had already started phasing out free meals on the two lowest categories of economy fares. And it will now stop providing meals for two more categories from Jan. 7.

The changes will not affect business class passengers in India nor all classes on international flights.

Jet Airways, which owes money to vendors and employees, is struggling to stay afloat and is seeking funds by raising equity and selling a stake in its loyalty program. The airline is also cutting flights on some routes and increasing frequencies on others to boost profit.

The survival of 25-year-old Jet Airways, founded by entrepreneur Naresh Goyal, is crucial for the companies from which it leases over 100 of its fleet of 124 planes. The airline also has 225 Boeing Co (BA.N) 737 MAX jets on order.

Reporting by Aditi Shah; Editing by Kirsten Donovan

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