Air India grounds 130 'overweight' crew members
Air India is relegating over 100 of its flight attendants to ground duty after they failed to meet body mass index (BMI) guidelines issued by the country's aviation regulator.
The state-run airline last year warned 600 of its 3,500 cabin crew to lose weight within six months or risk being given a job on the ground. Now it will remove about 130 of its flight attendents for having a body mass index (BMI) above its prescribed limit.
Air India requires its crew members' BMI – a measure of body fat based on a person’s height and weight – to fall within the ranges of 18 to 25 for men and 18 to 22 for women.
Comparatively, the National Institutes of Health in the US and the National Health Service (NHS) in the UK says a BMI under 18.5 means the person is 'underweight' and someone of either gender with a BMI of up to 24.9 is a 'normal' weight.
A spokesperson for the airline told CNN: "It's a safety issue. The crew has to be fit to be able to carry out their in-flight duties, including emergencies."
Air India has removed staff from the air in the past for being overweight; in 2009, the airline ground ten flight attendants for not slimming down.
A member of the All India Cabin Crew Association told UK newspaper The Telegraph: “Any industry insider would vouch that Air India flight attendants are the best, mainly because of their long experience. So, this guideline and the management's decision to follow it to the letter is unacceptable."