Last updated: 11:36 AM ET, Fri April 10 2015

Etihad Airways VP Fires Back Over APFA's Nicole Kidman Letter

Airlines & Airports | Patrick Clarke | April 10, 2015

Etihad Airways VP Fires Back Over APFA's Nicole Kidman Letter

Earlier this week, Etihad Airways responded to the Association of Professional Flight Attendants' recent criticism of campaign spokeswoman and United Nations Goodwill Ambassador for women Nicole Kidman with a statement affirming its commitment  to the "welfare, safety and well-being of the diverse group of men and women" within the company.

But most recently, Etihad's vice president of guest services, Linda Celestino sent a letter to the source of the allegations, APFA National President Laura Glading.

In addition to inviting Glading to visit the airline's facilities and meet some of the employees, Celestino wrote that she was "shocked" by the comments, calling them both "offensive" and "incorrect."

"Your claims regarding the treatment of female employees are not only completely offensive, they are outrageously inaccurate," said Celestino. "Our cabin crew represent a culturally diverse, talented group of professionals who receive the full support of Etihad Airways both during and after their training."

Celestino went on to dive deeper into the airline's policies:

"Our crew are provided with world-class company accommodation in various locations around the city of Abu Dhabi. Our crew can enter and leave the facilities whenever they choose with no alleged curfews in operation. Family and friends are welcome to visit and even reside with the crew for short periods or holidays within Company policy guidelines."

Celestino's letter was prompted by an open letter directed at Kidman, in which Glading said the organization "must respectfully ask that you — as a leading advocate for women around the globe — not lend your voice, your image and your good name to Etihad Airways, the second-largest airline in the UAE."

Glading added that "the United Arab Emirates and their airlines are well-known in our industry for their discriminatory labor practices and deplorable treatment of female employees."

However, prior to issuing the letter, the APFA had alleged that Emirates and other Persian Gulf carriers unfairly compete with U.S. carriers by relying on government subsidies.

It remains to be seen whether Glading and the APFA will concede Etihad's argument or double down on its allegations.


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