Vietnam’s 'bikini airline' is coming to India: 5 things to know

Should air hostesses' uniform matter more to the passengers than safety?

 |  3-minute read |   19-03-2018
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Vietnam’s low-cost airline Vietjet Air is all set to commence a direct flight from Vietnam's capital, Ho Chi Minh city, to New Delhi four days a week. The move will strengthen India-Vietnam ties, as there has never been any direct flight connecting the two countries. However, the news will grab eyeballs, for the airline — popularly known as the “bikini airline” — had run into controversies several times and its journey in India won’t be devoid of them.

Here are some interesting facts about the carrier:

Its claim to fame is sexism

Vietjet Air, whose tagline is "enjoy flying", is Vietnam’s first private airline, which started its operations in 2011. It heavily banked on sexist marketing strategies. According to reports, it became the second-largest airline of the country within a short span with its aggressive and out-of-the-box marketing. Currently, the airline serves 23 domestic and 10 international destinations. It took the aviation industry by surprise after it decided to use bikini-clad models in its advertisements. However, they are only models, not flight attendants and many of them are not even Vietnamese. Also, the actual flight attendants do not wear bikinis all the time. The marketing gimmick worked and the flight from “Ao Dai” (traditional Vietnamese clothing) to bikini raked in a lot of moolah for the airline. 

A year after it started its business, the airline started publishing an annual calendar in which scantily-clad models pose as flight attendants, pilots and ground staff. It received flak as many raised the question of whether the air hostesses' attire mattered more to the passengers than safety and comfort.

bikini1_inside_031918080227.jpg

Indonesia didn’t allow bikini-clad airhostesses

Last year, when VietJet announced its plan to connect to Jakarta, the Indonesian government made sure that the airhostesses were clad. The airlines abided by and announced that their bikini stunts are not regular, only tailored for specific occasions and appropriate destinations.

bikini_031918080242.jpg

Run by a woman entrepreneur

Vietjet was founded by Nguyen Thi Phuong Thao, who became the country’s first woman billionaire. She is also Vietnam's second richest person. According to reports, she also has investments in HD Bank and real estate, including beach resorts.

Penalised for risking safety

In 2012, the airline was fined £678.20 (around Rs 62,000) for holding a mid-flight dance performance without Vietnam’s aviation authorities' permission. Five bikini-clad flight attendants put up a show posing as beauty pageant contestants. The airline was severely criticised for bikini-clad air hostesses onboard a flight in which Vietnam's Under-23 men's soccer team was returning from an Asian tournament in China.

instagram_031918080328.jpgA photo from Vietjet calendar (Courtesy: Instagram)

All publicity is good

The airline takes its negative publicity positively, and believes that everyone has the right to wear what they like. It does not consider its marketing as sexist. “We are not upset when people associate us with the bikini image. If that makes people delighted and happy, then we’ll be happy,” Luu Duc Khanh, VietJet’s managing director, said to Reuters

Also read: Why classics in literature stand the test of time

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