Cash-starved Air India is putting its crew on a diet, changing their in-flight menu to special low-fat meals.

Dhananjay Kumar, the state-run airline’s spokesman, said the objective is to provide healthy and cost-effective meals to crews on domestic and international flights.

Mr Kumar declined comment on media reports that the cost per meal, mostly vegetarian, will come down to a third of the existing cost of 500-800 rupees (£5.60-£9).

Air India crew (Manish Swarup/AP)

The new menu was introduced on Monday on flights originating from New Delhi and Mumbai and will be extended to other routes.

“Special low-fat diet meals have been worked out on a day-wise basis in order to provide light and healthy meal with a home (Indian) touch,” an airline statement said.

The decision comes at a time when the Indian government is trying to divest from Air India, which has debts of nearly 580 billion rupees (£6.5 billion).

Air India staff  in first class
Air India staff in first class (Gautam Singh/AP)

After an earlier failed attempt to sell the airline last year, prime minister Narendra Modi’s government is expected to try again in October.

In 2009, the airline fired 10 air hostesses for being overweight when they failed to get back in shape three years after they were switched to ground crew jobs.