Saturday 31 March 2018

Cathay Pacific completes two-leg journey, letting women wear trousers

Airline becomes one of few in Asia giving its female flight attendants an alternative to skirts

After more than 70 years of requiring its female flight attendants to wear skirts, one of Asia’s largest airlines has said it will let them don trousers instead.

Cathay Pacific has reached the agreement with flight attendant unions. It also covers other uniformed staff. The Hong Kong-based carrier said: “Choice for our people is as important as for our passengers.

“It is imperative that our customer-facing colleagues not only feel pride in wearing the Cathay Pacific and [regional airline] Cathay Dragon colours but that they also feel comfortable and empowered to carry out their duties to the best of their abilities.”

This month flight attendant unions called on the airline to drop its skirts-only policy. Cathay’s uniform for female flight attendants includes a red skirt with two slits at the back, black stockings and black heels.

Cathay Pacific staff at Hong Kong international airport. Photograph: Philippe Lopez/AFP/Getty Images
“There’s sexual harassment, not only in the workplace but even in public transport, people trying to take pictures under their skirts,” said Pauline Mak, vice-chair of the Hong Kong Dragon Airlines Flight Attendants Association.

“We’ve been encountering a lot of cases by our members … so I think this is one of the reasons why we tried to do something.”

Others wanted the airline to catch up with the times. “The stereotype of the flight attendant is very old-style already: looking pretty, full make-up and wearing a skirt. It is a good time to have a revamp of our image,” Vera Wu Yee-mei, chair of the Cathay Pacific Flight Attendants Union, told Hong Kong media.

The agreement came out of negotiations between union members and the company that concluded on Thursday. Mak said the option of trousers would be introduced at the next uniform refresh, which could take between three and five years.

Cathay Pacific and Cathay Dragon will join the few airlines in Asia offering their female staff such an option. After two years of negotiations with unions, British Airways agreed in 2016 to let all of its crew wear trousers.

(Source: The Guardian)

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