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Overweight Air India flight cabin staff banned from flying

air indiaAir India has permanently reassigned 130 of its cabin staff to ground duties for being overweight. The move follows a warning last year by the airline in which 600 employees were told to lose weight.

The Indian flag carrier gave the staff a six month deadline to diet and reach specific body mass indexes (BMI). The 130 are those that did not slim down enough. An airline representative told reporters that the group had all been ruled as unfit to work as flight attendants.   

The spokesperson explained that fit people could respond more quickly in emergencies. The height-weight BMI criteria for Air India flight attendants is 18 to 25 for males and 18 to 22 for females. 

The National Health Institute in the US uses similar standards and anyone with a BMI between 25 and 30 is rated as overweight. Above 30 is classed as obese while 18 to 25 is the optimum BMI.

The fact the majority of cabin crew on Air India flights are women has led to claims of sexism. The move to ground heavier flight attendants is the culmination of a decade long fight. In 2009, it grounded nine attendants and three years later 10 more were dismissed.

Commenting on the latest redeployment of staff, aviation industry consultant Mark Martin said that assessing a member of staff’s suitability for a particular job on BMI only was immature. He added that airlines needed to take efficiency and experience into account too.

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