And now for some aviation news out of the Pacific Rim that doesn't involve a Malaysian Boeing 777-200 that's gone walkabout.
A Japanese labor union has lashed out at budget carrier Skymark for introducing a retro-style flight attendant's uniform that prominently features miniskirts.
The new uniform consists of a short, fitted Sixties’ style minidress in royal blue, accessorised with large yellow neck bows, small hats, sheer tights and heels.
Criticisms were led by the Japan Federation of Cabin Attendants, which issued a statement opposing the length of the new dresses and questioning the budget airline’s motivation behind such a move.
Highlighting its concern that the uniform could invite sexual harassment, it read: “We’re concerned that the design of this uniform may cause problems.
“The airline is saying the uniform is meant to attract more customers, but this shows the company is treating women like a commodity.”
Fears of passengers leering at cabin attendant’s legs or even taking pictures up their skirts with a mobile phone were among a string of concerns posted in comments onto the union’s website.
On a practical level, there were queries as to how the staff would be able to fulfill their duties, such as bending over, serving food and reaching above their heads while wearing such short skirts.
However, the airline countered that the uniforms were meant to promote the arrival of new Airbus 330s to the company's fleet and were primarily intended for promotional appearances more than in-flight service. A spokesman for Skymark said that the uniform would be voluntary [Having actually flown on an Asian flag carrier, I can tell you that the hiring preferences for stewardesses tends toward attractive, unmarried women under the age of 30].
While the uniforms are reminiscent of the golden age of jet travel, Skymark Airlines is pretty new itself. Founded in late 1996 after Japan de-regulated their domestic airline industry, Skymark began regular service in 1998 with a fleet of Boeing 767s and 737s. The larger, widebody 767s were retired by 2009 and initiated leases on seven Airbus A330s- the first of which arrived in January of this year. Currently Skymark competes with the domestic arms of JAL and All Nippon Airways as well as a number of commuter and regional airlines.