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Malaysia Airlines Faces Backlash After Ditching Iconic Sarong Kebaya Uniforms For Ground Staff… Are Flight Attendant Uniforms Next?

Malaysia Airlines Faces Backlash After Ditching Iconic Sarong Kebaya Uniforms For Ground Staff… Are Flight Attendant Uniforms Next?

a man and woman wearing blue uniforms

Malaysia Airlines is facing a public backlash after ditching its iconic sarong kebaya uniforms for ground staff in a move that the carrier says is a significant step in ’embracing modernity’ while maintaining ‘tributes to Malaysia’s cultural roots’.

The new uniform comprises a tailored three-piece suit, with skirt or trouser options for women. The blazer features an intricate ‘songket‘ design which the airline says “harmoniously blends the country’s rich cultural heritage with the uniform’s contemporary flair.”

Malaysia Airlines hopes the new uniforms will provide comfort and convenience for staffers while also appeasing more conservative passengers who want the airline to respect Malaysia’s Islamic values.

Until now, female flight attendants and ground staff workers have worn two different types of sarong kebaya.

The sarong kebaya worn by Malaysia Airlines flight attendants was designed by the School of Fashion at Mara Institute of Technology more than 37 years ago. The material features a kelarai pattern (a type of bamboo weave) with examples of Malaysian flora.

Last year, Malaysia Airlines sent out a survey to its frequent flyers asking them for their opinion on the airline “putting a more modest twist to the iconic kebaya” which included giving crewmembers the right to wear a hijab for the first time.

Ground staff are already allowed to wear a hijab, but the design change to a more modest three-piece suit has stoked public criticism with fears that the airline is diluting a key part of its brand image.

Malaysia is a cosmopolitan, diverse and multi-faith country, but Islam is the official religion. In recent years, the conservative Muslim Parti Islam Se-Malaysia political party has won increased support and currently holds the most seats in Malaysia’s parliament.

View Comments (2)
  • It looks stupid!. Look at singapore airline, maintain originality, & became top performing airline for years. ( even though I hated them for their success) . Malaysia Airlines is losing it, a lot, by having ‘ding-dongs’ managing the airline. Do it the Lee Kuan Yew way, get it right or get fired and he’ll close down singapore airline because manpower is expandable and because he has the power to do it. (and I also hate him but fully respect his stand on things). So, fire these idiots in management……. Please…….

  • Fully agreeable to your statement. The airlines seems to be flying in reverse ;). They are loosing loyal customers. And the new devaluation of its enrich points is pushing its members to look else where or to other options. Where is the competitiveness? Seems like the company is an being complacent about its position thus not moving forward. Unfortunately we do not have anyone capable in bringing the airline to the next level. Just hope that Malaysia Airlines will still exist in the next 5 years. Without all the bailouts, it would have been history long ago. Sigh … if only … Still remains as something to look forward to.

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