When it comes to causing controversy, the Vietnamese low-cost airline, Vietjet is definitely no stranger. Founded in 2011 by Vietnam’s first female billionaire, Nguyễn Thị Phương Thảo the airline has regularly seen bikini-top wearing flight attendant’s parade up and down its aircraft aisles in the name of passenger amusement.
But a recent behind the scenes video of a photoshoot for Vietjet’s 2018 Bikini Collection calendar has caused outrage in the airline’s home country. Not that Vietjet’s management is too concerned. In an emailed response, the airline’s managing director, Luu Duc Khanh said they were not “upset” by the public response.
“We are not upset when people associate us with the bikini image. If that makes people delighted and happy, then we’ll be happy,” Khanh was quoted by Reuters as saying. He went on to say that people “have the right to wear whatever they like, bikini or traditional.”
Vietjet’s founder has apparently claimed the calendar “emphasises free choice.” But opinion in Vietnam is divided. The accompanying video has been viewed more than 950,000 times on the airline’s YouTube channel since it was launched on 21st November. The same video posted to Vietjet’s Facebook page has been seen by over 6.6 thousand people.
While critics have lamented the “over-sexualised” imagery of flight attendants, others posting on the airline’s Facebook page have called it “beautiful” and said the airline deserves “support” for their risque marketing tactics.
Some European commentators have noted that the video would never be allowed in the West with one asking where the male models were. In 2014, the Irish low-cost airline, Ryanair dropped its own racy annual calendar which featured scantily clad female cabin crew after it was accused of “corporate misogyny.”
Vietjet says proceeds from the sale of the calendar will go towards charity and claims they are listening to feedback. Khanh said he believes the use of male models is a “good idea” – so while Vietjet might not be ready to ditch the calendar altogether, it may at least make it a little more inclusive.
With a fleet of 52 Airbus A320 and A321 aircraft, Vietjet operates 73 international and domestic routes. The airline says it employs “professional, beautiful cabin crew” and provides “high-quality services.” In 2015, Vietjet was named one of the Best Places to Work in the Tourism and Hospitality Industry by Anphabe & Nielson.
Mateusz Maszczynski honed his skills as an international flight attendant at the most prominent airline in the Middle East and has been flying throughout the COVID-19 pandemic for a well-known European airline. Matt is passionate about the aviation industry and has become an expert in passenger experience and human-centric stories. Always keeping an ear close to the ground, Matt's industry insights, analysis and news coverage is frequently relied upon by some of the biggest names in journalism.