GoAir, a budget airline in India, has announced it will only hire women to work as cabin crew on its flights, because men are heavier, and carrying less weight could save the airline £330,000 a year.
Is this a sensible approach? Would it work in the UK?
The airline has a fair point, women tend to be lighter than men. According to the Times of India, GoAir says that on average they are between 33lbs and 44 lbs lighter than the male flight attendants.
Currently 40% of its flight attendants are male. They won't be fired, but in future new recruits will be women. The airline will step up recruitment, as it is introducing 80 new aircraft in the next seven years.
The Daily Mail has reported that the airline is also taking other steps to cut down on weight, reducing the volume of its in-flight magazines and cutting back on the amount of water it carries. This is partly because currency movements have made operating expenses, such as buying fuel, so much more expensive.
Not aloneIt's not the only airline to focus on weight: many are looking closely at what they carry on-board and whether it is vital. Larger airlines across the world are investigating wi-fi technology and tablets so they can do away with weighty entertainment systems. Others have ditched the drinks trolley in favour of trays.
Sensitive peopleThe business of human weight, meanwhile, is altogether more sensitive. Ryanair isn't shy of tackling a sensitive issue. It has garnered its share of publicity by suggesting passengers should pay more if they are overweight, and suggesting flight attendants ought to consider slimming down in the interests of saving the company money.
Samoa Air in the South Pacific actually charges passengers by weight. You enter your weight online, and then you are weighed again at the airport to make sure you're not cheating. However, it's unlikely to start a trend as this is a small airline, with small planes, where weight has always been a consideration.
Instead most planes offer guidelines for larger passengers, whereby they suggest they may want to purchase an extra seat, or discuss their needs at the check-in desk.
As for banning male flight attendants: it just couldn't happen here. Recruitment policies in the UK would outlaw any discrimination - both against men and against those of a larger size. However, it's not beyond the realms of possibility that the firms will be pushing gym memberships and healthy eating options in the hope the staff take the initiative themselves.
It seems, therefore, that while airlines cut the weight they carry, for now at least, the attendants and passengers will not be in the firing line.
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