Air India grounds 125 overweight flight attendants

16 Sep 2015 by Clement Huang

Air India has grounded 125 of its cabin crew staff for being overweight.

The state-run carrier has revealed that the decision is consistent with the fitness guidelines put forth by India’s civil aviation regulator.

Speaking to CNN, Air India spokesperson G Rao emphasised that the affected crewmembers have not been laid off, and are still under full employment by the company.

“It is an opportunity for them to bring themselves back to the (required) fitness level. If they cannot because of any medical reasons, they will be offered ground duties," said Rao.

The "acceptable physical appearance” of cabin crew is a contentious issue in the aviation industry. While US carriers do not impose any age or weight restrictions on flight attendants, the same cannot be said about other airlines.

When Business Traveller Asia-Pacific visited Singapore Airlines’ (SIA) cabin crew training facility earlier this year, the carrier openly admitted that physical appearance was one of the many factors that it took into consideration when choosing applicants to join its cabin crew team.

SIA also revealed the stringent guidelines that every flight attendant has to follow, including acceptable hairstyles as well as the use of makeup and cosmetics.

Fellow Star Alliance member Air India has insisted that this recent grounding of its overweight staff is not about physical appearance.

"It's a safety issue," Rao said. "The crew has to be fit to be able to carry out their inflight duties, including emergencies." 

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Clement Huang

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