Sunday, March 23, 2014

Miniskirt turbulence at Skymark Airlines?

On March 20th, Skymark Airlines (BC/SKY) dismissed claims by the Japan Federation of Cabin Attendants, which is part of the Japan Federation of Aviation Worker's Union, that the new one-piece short-skirt uniforms pose a threat to safety and could also make the flight attendants victims of sexual harassment. The controversial 1960s-style uniform, which barely covers the wearer's thighs, will be worn by flight attendants on the Airbus A330 for the first six months on each route it is introduced on, starting with the Tokyo/Haneda (HND/RJTT) - Fukuoka (FUK/RJFF) route on May 31st.
President and CEO Shinichi Nishikubo and flight attendants with miniskirt uniforms posing in front of their brand-new Airbus A330. (Photo: Aviation Wire)

"Article 73-3 of the Civil Aeronautics Act states ‘prohibition of safety-impeding acts,’ which includes sexual harassment. The duties of cabin attendants are to prevent these incidents beforehand, but we are concerned that the design of the uniform might induce such disturbing acts. Moreover, the airline is treating women as products, as it is advertising that this uniform will attract customers. We have to doubt the morality of the company", the Japan Federation of Cabin Attendants said in a letter submitted to Japan's Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport, and Tourism (MLIT) and Ministry of Health, Labor, and Welfare (MHLW) on February 25th.

Skymark says that the uniform was "designed with passenger and staff safety in mind", and that though they had received a question regarding the matter, it had not received any official complaints. They also denied any letters from the MLIT and MHLW as well, and added that none of their flight attendants belonged to the Japan Federation of Cabin Attendants. Skymark reiterates that only those who volunteer to wear the uniform will do so, and will not impose anything on those who refuse to wear. After six months, the flight attendants will revert to the normal uniform.

However, President and CEO Shinichi Nishikubo admits that the uniform "has attracted an overwhelming amount of attention", adding "we want everyone to take a closer look at the new comfortable seats and try it". Japan's third largest domestic carrier is configuring its new A330-300s in an all-premium (akin to premium economy) seven-abreast (2-3-2) 271-seat layout. A total of 10 are planned by September 2015. After Fukuoka, it will be introduced on the Haneda - Okinawa/Naha (OKA/ROAH) route in September, followed by Haneda - Sapporo/New Chitose (CTS/RJCC) in late January 2015.

Source: Japan Times, March 10th. (in English)
Source: Aviation Wire, March 21st. (in Japanese)

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