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Shape up, court tells airhostesses

The Delhi HC upholds the policy of Indian Airlines to take off crewmembers who have put on excess weight from flying duties, reports Harish V. Nair.

india Updated: Jun 05, 2008 02:06 IST
Harish V. Nair

If you're overweight, rush to the treadmill, not the courts. This is the message that went out to airhostesses from the Delhi High Court on Wednesday. The HC upheld the policy of Indian Airlines to take off crewmembers who had put on excess weight from flying duties.

A bench of Justices AK Sikri and JR Midha was hearing an appeal filed by five airhostesses against an order passed by a single judge who had upheld the airline's decision to ground them. They had challenged the May 4, 2006, circular which withdrew the 3 kg grace weight limit and decision to ground overweight crew members without pay.

"The airline did soft peddling by relaxing prescribed weight standards from time to time and ultimately withdrew these concessions. Merely because the appellants were enjoying these concessions earlier, which were withdrawn, would not give any legal right to challenge the withdrawal of these concessions", the bench said.

Terming the circular as "arbitrary and illegal", the airhostesses contended: "There is no connection between weight and performance of duty when one is medically fit. Weight is not a criteria of fitness."

But the judges said the airhostesses had to maintain body weight standards as laid down by the airlines from time to time and was made a condition of their appointment, which they accepted.

Justice Rekha Sharma had justified the airline's decision in May 2007, saying they need to be subjected to certain standards of height and weight. "Their job profile demands it. The cabin crew, including airhostesses are expected to handle situations like air turbulence and other emergencies deftly, with alacrity and presence of mind. All this will be possible only if they possesses the highest order of physical and mental fitness."