No more sarees? Air India may bring in new look for flight crew
The new look, expected to be unveiled in November, will include churidars for women and suits for men. The current uniform has been there for six decades.
New Delhi For six decades now, Air India’s flight attendants have worn the whole nine yards while negotiating long-haul flights and demanding passengers. But by the end of the year, the only airline to have their women flight attendants wear sarees on board, will likely move on to more contemporary attire. HT has learnt that new uniforms expected by November, may no longer have the saree as part of crew’s wardrobe.
Designer Manish Malhotra, who is overseeing the new look, declined to comment citing a non-disclosure agreement (NDA) but officials aware of the development said that the new look will still have traditional options.
“Churidars will be one of the options for women and the male crew members will wear suits,” said one official on condition of anonymity. “The sarees will take a back seat. When I say this, I mean that they may be entirely taken away from the set of uniforms.”
A second official claimed that sarees may not be discontinued entirely. “Various options were given to the airline, which included ready to wear sarees that look like saree but are not draped like the traditional ones. However, they have not been finalised by the management.”
An Air India spokesperson declined to comment on the matter.
The new look may disappoint fans of the saree, which has seen a major revival in the last few years. Instagram hashtags such as #nineyards or #sareetwitter have been trending topics with accounts dedicated to women who navigate their daily life and work environment while comfortably draped in the saree.
Till 1962, the female crew of the airline wore a skirt, jacket and a hat; the idea to make them sport sarees was the late JRD Tata’s, and the first sarees were sourced from Binny Mills.
Recalling the old days, one of the cabin crew who retired from Air India in 1972 said, “We were taught to drape sarees in the right way and all of us loved working in our uniforms.”
The first official said that the uniform’s colour will be the same as the airline’s new livery: deep red, aubergine, and gold.
“Post merger, the Vistara cabin crew’s attire will be the same as Air India’s,” he added
The airline’s chief executive officer (CEO) and managing director (MD) Campbell Wilson, in a rebranding event on August 10, announced that the airline’s new livery will be seen first in the A350 aircraft, the first of which is expected to be delivered next month.
“The new crew uniforms will be launched after the A350 is delivered,” the second official said.