Skimpy airline calendar ‘taking us back 50 years’
An airline’s skimpy bikini calendar could threaten its expansion into conservative South-East Asia and the Middle East.
VietJet Air’s annual calendar features American, Thai and Vietnamese models playing flight attendants and airline staff in overly-sexualised scenarios.
But the calendar’s 2018 edition has drawn criticism amid the growing debate in the airline industry about the sexual harassment of in-flight staff and passengers.
It could potentially also hamper the airline’s efforts to introduce routes into its more conservative neighbour nations and the Middle East.
In the calendar, models wear elaborate lingerie and bikinis in various situations VietJet Air staff would no doubt find themselves – including on a baggage carousel, alone in a cockpit, wearing sparkly bikinis on a tarmac while unloading baggage from a plane and lying sensually across an airline check-in counter.
But this is not the first time the airline has used sex to sell seats.
VietJet was fined $1131 by Vietnam’s civil aviation body in 2012 after having five models perform a sensual Hawaiian-themed dance on board a flight from Ho Chi Minh City to Nha Trang.
The airline then used bikini dancers to celebrate the launch of its Ho Chi Minh City to Singapore route in 2013.
It also occasionally offers flights where in-flight staff wear the airline’s “bikini uniforms”.
When talks began in August last year for VietAir to fly between Vietnam and Jakarta, concerns were so high that flamboyant bikini marketing tricks would be used to advertise the new route to the conservative Islamic country that Indonesia’s ambassador to Vietnam was forced to publicly confirm airline staff would not be dressed in bikinis.
Veteran US flight attendant and author Heather Poole said Vietjet is “taking us back 50 years by hyper-sexualising a female dominated work group in order to make a few bucks off a couple of cheesy calendars.”
“Women have to work so hard to be taken seriously, and in this case it’s a woman in charge taking us back to the days of ‘Coffee, Tea or Me?’,” she told Reuters.
VietJet founder Nguyen Thi Phuong Thao is Vietnam’s first female billionaire and one of the few women globally that run a major airline.
The airline’s managing director, Luu Duc Khanh, said the company’s founder thought the calendar represented the fact modern women “have the right to wear whatever they like, bikini or traditional ao dai (a traditional Vietnamese long dress.)”
“We are not upset when people associate us with the bikini image. If that makes people delighted and happy, then we’ll be happy,” Mr Khan told Reuters.
Proceeds from sales of the calendar are reportedly donated to charity.
Mr Khan noted there may also be another addition to the calendar in 2019.
“Male models is a good idea for us to introduce in our calendars next year,” he said.
© Nine Digital Pty Ltd 2017