Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) has told the Supreme Court that physically unfit, obese or unpresentable crew members were harming its image and also doing a disservice to them.
In a report on the suitability assessment of the flight crew, the airline submitted that the importance of cabin crew's presentability was evident from comments, observations and suggestions made by the airline's customers, adding that revenue generation was based on customer satisfaction and PIA, being no exception, had to follow policies practised by its competitors.
In a chamber hearing, Justice Muhammad Nawaz Abbasi had taken up the complaint of a number of female cabin crew against what they termed discriminatory attitude of the PIA administration which asked them to go on a forced leave on "biased and absolutely meaningless reasons" like dull and poor appearance, scars on face, big gap in the front teeth and the age-factor affecting looks. They have sought withdrawal of insulting remarks as well as letters of forced retirement.
On Monday, the PIA administration tendered an unqualified apology on a contempt of court notice for grounding two of its flight crew despite a clear direction to maintain the status quo.
At the last hearing Justice Abbasi had taken a serious view when Advocate Sheikh Riazul Haq, representing the air hostesses, deplored that two of the senior crew members, Naheed Azhar and Nayyar Yahya, had been grounded in violation of the restraint against the corporation not to fire the crew.
A report presented by PIA contended that the suitability board comprising general manager of flight services, manager customer relations, chief flight surgeon and grooming officer had assessed the cabin crew who had attained the age of 40 years between June and July 2006.
According to the Dawn, the report said that the crew were evaluated for grooming assessment, weight, uniform turnout, adherence to overall grooming standards, communication skills, medical assessment, punctuality and on-board performance.
The cabin crew were also informed of their shortcomings by the board, followed by letters advising improvement in specific areas.
The letters were issued to 73 cabin crew.