British Airways passengers could soon be given Islamic halal-only meals under plans being considered by the world’s largest provider of airline food.
GateGourmet, which caters for all long haul British Airways flights from Heathrow airport, claims the contentious proposal would save money.
But giving customers meals prepared in accordance with Islamic dietary rules is likely to prove highly controversial among many travellers.
GateGourmet, a member company of gategroup, provides catering for 14 airlines, and is about to open a new halal-only kitchen at Heathrow.
Guy Dubois, chief executive of gategroup, said: “My aim is to make our large hub operations halal compliant.
“If I produce everything according to halal standards, I will reduce complexity and increase cost effectiveness. It isn’t driven by social or religious considerations.”
And Peter van Niekerk, head of gategroup in the UK, said: “We are at the moment competing for some more halal business and when we make that, the scale tips.”
He also said that the catering firm would consult with airlines such as BA to “manage perceptions and manage such a transition”.
A spokesman for BA said: “British Airways has no plans to change its current menus or halal meal process.”
Currently most airlines already offer passengers a halal option, but these meals need to be prepared, stored and transported separately from other meals in order to comply with Islamic law.
These requirements make the halal meals more expensive.
Last month Harrow Council in London provoked a storm of protest after it announced plans to prefer Islamic halal-only menus in the borough’s state primary schools.
Parents were outraged that meat prepared according to Islamic Sharia law was being pushed on non-Muslim children.
Contracts signed with the Council’s preferred catering company, Harrison’s, stipulated that only halal meat was to be served.
The Council claimed the plan was needed to overcome difficulties in keeping halal meat separate from non-halal meat.
It has since said it will postpone the move, because of, in part, “the level of interest from parents”, and will revisit the issue in the autumn.