Friday, September 21, 2001

Remember 9-11-01

Parent company AMR is eliminating airline meals
on many American and TWA flights.

American Air cuts
in-flight meals

Honolulu catering firm Sky Chefs
supplies meals for outbound
American and TWA flights

By Russ Lynch

Thousands of travelers between Hawaii and the mainland on American Airlines and Trans World Airlines will no longer have to choose between chicken and pasta.

But travelers who've long scorned the airline meal are about to be faced with a new question: Will they miss it when it's gone?

Coach-class passengers on a dozen daily flights the airlines operate won't be served meals as a cost-cutting step the airlines are taking to deal with plunging revenues after last week's terrorist acts in New York and Washington.

They'll be left with beverages and some sort of snack.

First-class riders will continue to get the full treatment, however. The airlines did not say when passengers will first notice the difference but said the change will be completed by Nov. 1.

Hawaii is not alone. American and TWA -- both owned by AMR Corp. -- said they are applying the changes to most domestic services, providing full meal service only on nonstop transcontinental flights, such as Los Angeles-New York, and three-class international flights.

And even first-class travelers will have to do without meals if their flights are under two hours.

In the Hawaii trade, all 11 of American's daily flights to and from the mainland will be affected. They range from 188-passenger Boeing 757s to the widebody 767s with more than 200 passengers.

Also affected is TWA's single Hawaii flight, the daily nonstop between Honolulu and St. Louis, which also uses a 767.

In normal times that could mean well over 2,000 meals a day on the Hawaii routes alone.

One business that will be affected immediately is Sky Chefs Inc., which does the airlines' catering. Sky Chefs officials declined to comment on the possible effect, saying they are not allowed to talk to the press.

American, which announced Wednesday it expected to lay off at least 20,000 workers, said in a statement that the food-service changes "will generate significant cost savings in response to the airline's critical financial condition."

"This is an intentionally measured and specific response to our immediate need to reduce costs and to the extraordinary circumstances that now exist within our industry," said Mike Gunn, American's vice president of marketing and planning.

Hawaiian Airlines spokes-man Keoni Wagner said no such decision has been made and "we don't expect meal service to cease," but it is one of the many cost issues the airline is studying in a company-wide crisis reaction.

Hawaiian said Wednesday it will cut 20 percent of its flights, starting Oct. 1, and will need to adjust staffing.

Competitor Aloha Airlines, which is cutting 25 percent of its flights, has not made any changes in its cabin service, said a spokesman, Stu Glauberman.

Neither airline serves meals on interisland flights but both have first-class and coach-class meals on their Hawaii-mainland routes.

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