Airlines’ turbulent relations with flight crew

Aeroflot said in April it is reasonable for female flight attendants to face financial penalties if they are deemed to be overweight. (Aeroflot)
Updated 10 November 2017
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Airlines’ turbulent relations with flight crew

Aeroflot came under fire for weight discrimination in April this year when airline representatives at a press conference said that it was reasonable for female flight attendants to face financial penalties if they were overweight. This was after two flight attendants took the airline to court, part of a group of women who jokingly named themselves STS — an abbreviation of “old, fat and ugly” in Russian. They said Aeroflot moved them from prestigious long-haul flights to lower-paid domestic routes because of their physical appearance, The Guardian reported. Evgenia Magurina, one of the complainants, claimed that Aeroflot flight attendants were photographed, measured and in some cases weighed. Women who did not meet the requirements were withdrawn from international routes.

Malaysia Airlines was accused in September this year of sacking cabin crew for being overweight. The Far Eastern carrier was accused of ageism and body-shape discrimination after it was revealed that five of its employees — all over the age of 50 — had their contracts terminated. The flight attendants — three men and two women — have worked for the airline for more than 20 years, but were told their services were no longer required, according to the National Union of Flight Attendants Malaysia (NUFAM). “This is a classic case of discrimination which needs to be stopped,” NUFAM president Ismail Nasaruddin told Kuala Lumpur newspaper The New Straits Times.

Air India was criticized in 2015 for firing 130 cabin crew for being overweight, claiming it was sacking them over “safety concerns.” In 2006, Air India also grounded nine female flight attendants deemed to be “exceptionally overweight.” The airline said that “being grossly overweight does have a bearing on reflexes and can impair agility required to perform the emergency functions.” The attendants sued, but a Delhi court backed up the carrier in 2008. The women appealed, only for the airline to fire them in 2009 as the country’s Supreme Court was still considering the case, The Washington Post ­reported.

In 2009, the union representing flight attendants working for Delta Air Lines in America cried foul over Delta’s failure to offer bigger sizes for its signature red dress uniform. The red dress was only available up to size 18, though a Delta spokeswoman said that the airline had a range of outfits in other colors and styles up to size 28 that flight attendants could wear, according to the Associated Press. A union representative said: “I think red is an eye-popping color and it’s not subtle, and to me by not offering it in a size over 18, Delta is saying, ‘We don’t want you wearing that if you are over size 18’ ... But the job isn’t about being sexy. It’s about safety.”


Cost of eating out in Saudi Arabia rises at fastest rate in five years

Updated 25 September 2018
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Cost of eating out in Saudi Arabia rises at fastest rate in five years

  • August data reveal sharp uptick in prices in hotel and restaurant sector
  • But price increases in other sectors slow leaving overall inflation rate flat

LONDON: The cost of eating out or enjoying a night’s stay at a hotel in Saudi Arabia increased at the fastest rate recorded in five years last month, according to government statistics.
August’s consumer price data show that restaurant and hotel inflation rose to a new high of 8.4 percent year-on-year in August from 7.6 percent year-on-year in July.
Slower price increases in other categories ensured the headline inflation rate for the Kingdom remained relatively flat, with inflation staying at 2.2 percent year-on-year in August, unchanged from the previous month.
Analysts forecast that the Kingdom’s inflation rate will likely pick up again towards the end of the year.
“We still expect it to rise a little over the rest of this year as underlying price pressures pick up,” said Jason Tuvey, senior emerging markets economist at Capital Economics, on Tuesday in a research note.
Inflation in Saudi Arabia peaked earlier this year at 3 percent following the introduction of the new value-added tax on certain goods and the government-imposed price hikes on the cost of energy at the start of 2018.
Consumer prices are expected to drop again in the new year as the impact of the VAT charge lessens, analysts predict.
“The upshot is that we expect that inflation will fall to around 1 percent year-on-year in January 2019,” said Tuvey in a note.
Food inflation - which represents 20 percent of the basket of goods and services used to calculate the growth rates in consumer prices - edged downwards in August to 6.6 percent year-on-year compared to 6.7 percent in July. 

The cost of food had jumped in July, with vegetables in particular becoming more expensive with inflation hitting 8.1 percent year-on-year compared to a decline of 0.8 percent year-on-year recorded in June.