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Last Updated: Friday, 23 March 2007, 12:27 GMT
Victory for 'fat' air hostesses
Air India jet
For some Indian airlines, the appearance of staff is crucial
Air hostesses deemed overweight have won a partial victory in a battle with Indian Airlines after the carrier told them to lose weight or lose their jobs.

Thirteen stewardesses took legal action after they were deemed too fat to fly and were grounded by Indian Airlines.

Their lawyer Arvind Sharma said a court had ruled that the airline would have to pay out the wages the women lost.

However, Indian Airlines has filed a petition that will be heard in court on Monday and could overturn the verdict.

Bulging business

The legal wrangle dates back to the start of 2006 when Indian Airlines introduced a system of measuring air hostesses based on their height and weight.

Claiming discrimination and unconstitutional behaviour by Indian Airlines, the hostesses took legal action in the middle of last year so that they would be allowed to fly again, regardless of their weight.

"It's a victory for us," said their lawyer Mr Sharma. "The court has held that they have to pay for the salaries of the air hostesses."

However, he added that the victory may be short-lived as the entire matter will be decided on Monday, when the writ petition is heard in court.

Imposing strict rules on air staff is nothing new in India, and in past years companies have admitted that appearance is a key factor for any male or female looking for a job.

They have even gone so far as to say that applicants with acne and bad teeth would be weeded out.

Demand for air travel has picked up as India's economy has expanded, and airlines are facing increased competition.

It is estimated that the Indian aviation industry will carry some 45 million passengers a year by 2010.


SEE ALSO
Shed weight or jobs, crews told
15 Dec 05 |  South Asia
No acne allowed for air hostesses
19 Feb 04 |  South Asia

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