Last updated: 10:30 AM ET, Mon September 14 2015

Air India Plans to Ground 130 Flight Attendants Based on Body Fat Levels

Airlines & Airports | Patrick Clarke | September 14, 2015

Air India Plans to Ground 130 Flight Attendants Based on Body Fat Levels

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India's national carrier Air India has announced that it will relieve roughly 130 flight attendants of their cabin crew duties not because of poor job performance, but because of their body fat levels, the Telegraph reported.

The body mass index (BMI) of the employees in question measured above the airline's authorized limit.

Last year, the airline issued a warning to as many as 600 of its 3,500 cabin crew who were determined to be "overweight" or "obese," in turn deeming those employees "temporarily unfit" for flight duties. Those employees were asked to lose weight within a period of six months or risk being transferred to a job on the ground. 

"About 130 of them failed the reassessment," an Air India official confirmed to the Telegraph. "We are now declaring them permanently unfit for their job as flight attendants."

"People who are fitter can respond quicker and more efficiently in case of any untoward situation," the official added.

Unsurprisingly, the carrier's decision to ground the flight attendants has been met with resistance from the All India Cabin Crew Association, which called the move "ridiculous."

"Any industry insider would vouch that Air India flight attendants are the best, mainly because of their long experience," the organization said in a statement to the Telegraph. "So, this guideline and the management's decision to follow it to the letter is unacceptable."

For female flight attendants, the airline said it considers a BMI of between 18 and 22 to be "normal," a BMI between 22 and 27 "overweight" and a BMI above 27 to be "obese." For male flight attendants, the measurements extend to 18 to 25 for normal, 25 to 30 for overweight, and anything above obese.

However, citing the U.K.'s National Health Service, the Telegraph reported a "healthy" BMI to be between 18.5 and 24.9. 

Air India's controversial decision comes six years after the airline grounded 10 flight attendants who were unsuccessful in achieving the carrier's recommended weight.

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