The first airline to hire transsexuals as flight attendants is the new Thai airline PC Air. This move comes even as it aims to set a unique identity for itself from the rest of the competitors.
Transgenders and transsexuals, who are known as 'katoeys' or 'ladyboys', have greater visibility in Thailand than in many other nations, and are most common in cosmetics shops or health stores.
PC Air, a charter airline set to start operations on Asian routes in April, originally planned only to hire male and female flight attendants, but changed its mind after receiving more than 100 job applications from transvestites and transsexuals.
Four were chosen, along with 19 female and 7 male flight attendants.
While the airline strives for equality, PC Air president Peter Chan, who chooses the transsexual cabin crew himself, said he needed to spend more time with interviews for such applicants.
"For male flight attendants, if I don't want to hire them, it's because of their attitude or their characters, like the way they walk and smile," the Daily Mail quoted him as saying.
"For female flight attendants, if they have no patience and their character does not qualify, we won't hire them.
"For transsexuals, we can't just spend five or 10 minutes with them, we have to spend the whole day with them to make sure they have feminine characters," he added.
The airline said that the qualifications for the ladyboy flight attendants were the same as for female flight attendants, with the additional provisos that they be like women in how they walk and talk, and have a feminine voice and the right attitude.
Though there is very little discrimination against ladyboys in Thailand, they are not officially recognised as women and their identification cards will always say "male".
The airline said it may hire more flight attendants from the "third gender" in the future since the Department of Civil Aviation has no objections.
The airline is initially set to fly to South Korea, Hong Kong, Singapore and China.