Chicken or beef? Airline delivers in-flight meals to travel-deprived Russians

MOSCOW, May 1 (Reuters) - Ural Airlines has begun delivering in-flight meals to travel-deprived Russians who miss the thrill of a catering cart rolling down the aisle because of coronavirus lockdowns.

The airline, which is delivering its in-flight meals to customers in Moscow, St. Petersburg and Yekaterinburg, said the initiative was meant to provide people with "the taste of travel without leaving your home".

"Everything is just like on the airplane except for the view," it wrote on its Instagram page on Thursday.

Russia has closed its borders to foreigners and grounded international flights, except those repatriating Russians or returning foreign nationals to their country of origin.

Many Russians have been confined to their homes for weeks, going out only to buy food or medicine, take out the trash or walk their dog.

However, food delivery services are still functioning and the residents of major cities have made extensive use of them to replenish their provisions.

Ural Airlines' service offers the staples of airline meals - chicken, meat and fish - as well as orange, apple and tomato juice. The meal is served on a traditional airline tray.

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In Moscow, a business class meal of chicken costs 1,250 roubles ($16.65), while an economy class meal costs 550 roubles ($7.33).

Airline seat occupancy rates fell 92% last month in Russia, the Russian Association of Air Transport Operators said this week.

On Friday Russia reported a record daily rise in confirmed coronavirus cases that pushed the national tally to 114,431. The country has recorded 1,169 deaths from the virus.

The spike in daily cases came a day after Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin said he had been diagnosed with the new coronavirus and was temporarily stepping down to recover. ($1 = 75.0850 roubles) (Reporting by Gabrielle Tétrault-Farber; Editing by Gareth Jones)

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