To cut fuel costs, this airline won't hire men

Trying to slim down its spending, an Indian carrier vows to accept only female crew members because they weigh less.

By Aimee Picchi Jul 1, 2013 1:17PM

An aircraft of Indian airline Go Air lands at Indira Gandhi International Airport in New Delhi on September 8, 2012 (© RAVEENDRAN/AFP/Getty Images)Applicants wanting a job at GoAir, an Indian airline, face a new requirement: women only, please. 

Men are out of luck, given management's plan to pare spending on fuel by hiring only female flight attendants, who on average weigh less than their male counterparts, the Times of India reports.

The decision is expected to save GoAir as much as 30 million rupees per year, or about $500,000. At issue is the decline in the Indian currency, which has slumped about 26% against the U.S. dollar in in the past two years.

"The rupee's fall has hurt the industry badly. All major expenses -- aircraft leasing, spare parts and fuel costs -- are linked to the dollar," GoAir chief executive Giorgio Di Roni told the Times. 

The airline's plan doesn't mean it'll shed its current male crew members, however. The company's 130 male flight attendants will continue on their jobs, but all new hiring will be female-focused. GoAir has about 330 cabin crew members, but it plans to recruit 2,000 new ones and pilots as it adds 80 aircraft. 

It's not only the cabin crew that's getting scrutinized for weight. GoAir is also reducing the size of its in-flight magazine, filling its water tanks to only 60% capacity and using single-engine taxiing -- all to cut fuel costs. 

The twist in GoAir's hiring practices harks back to the early days of the airline industry, when cabin crews were almost universally female -- and had strict weight and height guidelines. 

In the U.S., civil rights laws banned the practice of employers discriminating on the basis of age, gender or race, prompting the airline industry to abandon its practice of hiring mostly women as flight attendants.

The airlines' weight restrictions proved harder to shed, with U.S. airlines dropping weight requirements for crew members in 1990. An age limit -- which meant any flight attendants over 30 were kicked off the crew -- was dropped in 1970

Still, U.S. cabin crews of airlines such as Delta (DAL) and US Airways (LCC) remain predominantly female. Even as recently as 2007, about three-quarters of all cabin crew staffers were female, according to the Population Reference Bureau.

Follow Aimee Picchi on Twitter at @aimeepicchi. 

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Jul 1, 2013 2:48PM
I suspect the real reason is they feel they do not need to pay women as much as their male counterparts! Come on, it's India! They don't exactly have a track record of treating women fairly!!
Jul 1, 2013 1:44PM
Seems like a better requirement would be only to hire people less then 150lbs. The average women weighs less then the average man but that does not mean there are tons of obese women
Jul 1, 2013 2:44PM
Perhaps woman weigh less but in India they are certainly paid less too..
Jul 1, 2013 2:54PM
LOL!!! It isn't about weight, it's about not paying them as much as men.
Jul 1, 2013 2:43PM
WOW.. the management of that airline obviously hasn't been in the U.S. lately. With the millions of no chin, no waist, balloon **** porkers running around this country in halter tops, It would be enough to make you want to add extra barf bags in the airline seat pockets.
Jul 1, 2013 3:18PM
I don't know what all the fuss is...they're discriminating against men, not women.  Everybody knows that's just fine...
Jul 1, 2013 2:51PM

what about flight crew?  Are there that many Indian female pilots?


I believe the now defunct Hooters Airline had a similar all female hiring program, but maybe not because of fuel costs.

Jul 1, 2013 2:56PM

good i think only women should fly this airline, Men should boycott the service. discrimination is surely at work here.

Jul 1, 2013 2:55PM

Roadto / BigThank:  Read the article - they are not firing male attendants; they just aren't hiring new ones.  They are not changing requirements for pilots.


Sauron:  Lawyers in India are NOT going to have a field day; India is not the US


Someone/Another:  Good thoughts.  Moto:  Again, this is not the US.  The whole world doesn't adopt the US standard of equality and, mostly, they get along fine

Jul 1, 2013 2:24PM

How about if passenger plus luggage equals a certain weight or less/more, then the passenger gets a discount/pays a premium?

Jul 1, 2013 3:01PM
I guess they don't have sex discrimination laws in India.
Jul 1, 2013 2:45PM
Except this being an Indian carrier they will eventually have to pay big money to hire very large bouncers to keep the male passengers in line.
Jul 1, 2013 1:42PM
Is that discriminatory to dismiss all with swinging meat right away?
Jul 1, 2013 3:41PM
Why is everyone angry about my earlier post about pilots collecting food stamps? Sorry, folks. Quite true. ABC's 20/20 did a show about this a while ago. The average salary of a pilot is less than the national level of poverty wages. These are the people we trust in the cockpit. We're also subsidizing their income. It's a fact. Don't get angry at the messenger.
Jul 1, 2013 3:13PM
lol..i wonder if they will have to start wearing light weight head wraps? full body waxing, head shaving,  no shoes, no shirts ...NO  problem..whats next??  nude flying?
Jul 1, 2013 4:22PM

They should only hire based on weight.  There are still some skinny small men out there.  Jockeys are a weight based profession.  Why not flight attendants.  Also, pilots and astonauts.


This makes sense.  Of course if I applied a weight limit on my car passengers, my wife would beat the crap out of me.

Jul 1, 2013 3:30PM
Hey this is good news for airlines in the US.  Now there will be a surplus of pilots available for hire.  The Indian pilots will come over here in droves on HB1 visas, take jobs from American pilots and then never leave the country.  Another jobs win will be claimed by Obama.
Jul 1, 2013 3:19PM

I imagine the people that say they get paid less are right. just to add another point about weight though, I was a load master for the airlines and I can tell you that the plain has a maximum weight limit every pound they drop from passengers in a pound of cargo that can be added and cargo pays better. I have seen planes that have had passengers bumped for priority cargo many times

Jul 1, 2013 4:28PM
If this was reversed in that they wouldn't hire women, the U.S. would probably ban the airline from coming to the United States. But since it's men, no worries...
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