Air India has decided to serve hot veg meals on domestic flights that last 60-90 minute from 1 January. Earlier, it served vegetarian and non-vegetarian sandwiches and cake slices on 90-minute flights.

It will also no longer serve tea or coffee for lunch and dinner.

"It has been decided to provide all Indian vegetarian hot meals in economy class on all domestic sector flights between 61 and 90 minutes of duration from January 1, 2016," the AI circular issued last week said.

Batting criticism that has been coming its way, AI has defended its decision saying serving hot meals is in fact an upgrade from cold sandwiches.

"At present, AI serves veg meals on flights upto 90 minutes, but that is given cold. We are improving our meal service and will now serve hot veg meals on flights that have a duration of 60-90 minutes, instead of cold meals," said AI chairman Ashwani Lohani after former-Jammu and Kashmir chief minister Omar Abdullah questioned the change.

"I don't understand what the issue is. We are only replacing cold veg meals with hot veg meals on some flights, a logical thing to do in winter. This is what people want," he added.

Air India, in its circular, has also said feedback would be sought from passengers following which there would be a review.

The new menu will only be applicable for flights up to 90 minutes. For longer flights, veg and non-veg options will continue to be available.

The Civil Aviation Ministry had recently announced there would be no salary hikes for employees in the Air India subsidiary Hotel Corporation of India as the outfit has been working on a loss.

"I have had the matter examined and would like to apprise you that in view of losses being incurred by the company (HCI) for the past several years, it has not been possible for the management to implement wage revision," said Civil Aviation Minister Ashok Gajapathi Raju.

Air India, however, recorded its first operating profit in a decade in early November since Ashwani Lohani, also known as Mr Turnaround, was appointed its chairman and managing director.