The low-cost Indian airline company Go Air has announced that they will be only hiring female flight attendants, putting a stop on hiring men.
While you may be imagining any manner of salacious reasons for this policy change, the stated purpose is actually much more… bizarre.
India is currently facing a severe problem: the value of the rupee has fallen drastically. On June 20, the rupee was to an all-time low of 59.98 rupees to US$1. Naturally, this drives up the cost of imports—like jet fuel.
Of course, as you may expect, the more weight on an airplane, the more fuel necessary to keep the plane flying. Unfortunately, there’s not much an airline company can do about the weight of their passengers or their luggage, at least until someone figures out how to make a shrink ray. But they can (kind of) control the weight of their employees! I think we can all see where this is going.
According to Go Air, women weigh between 33 and 44 pounds less than men on average. By employing primarily female flight attendants (the currently employed male flight attendants will all get to keep their jobs), the company expects to be able to reduce operating costs by using less jet fuel.
The amount they will be able to save will ultimately depend on how much lighter the employees will actually be. The company estimates that for every kilogram (2.2 pounds) added to a plane, the operating cost increases by three rupees per hour (slightly less than $0.05).
If we assume 10 flight attendants per plane, replacing an all male crew with an all female crew, we could guess that the plane would be up to 440 pounds lighter. This would result in a cost saving of $22 per hour.
Of course, reality does not really match our hypothetical situation—for one thing, the company currently employs 330 flight attendants and only 130 of them are male. Since none of the male attendants are being let go, it means that only new employees will potentially be lighter. It seems unlikely that they’ll be able to get the $22 an hour savings in our above scenario.
It turns out that Go Air, who probably knows better than we do anyway, believes that they’ll be able to save up to $500,000 a year simply be focusing on hiring women as flight attendants.
Since they’re planning on hiring around 2,000 more people over the next seven years, it certainly does seems possible to cut reduce costs by reducing employee weight. We think they should spend the money saved on researching that shrink ray, though!
They’re also looking into other ways of reducing weight, like using smaller magazines or putting less fuel in the tanks. If that last part sounds a bit horrifying, you can take heart in knowing that they usually use 40 percent or less of a full tank anyway. Still, we’d feel a lot better knowing reserves were available in case of a Die Hard 2 situation.
A Go Air spokesperson also addressed the issue of sexual discrimination, saying that 40 percent of the company’s flight attendants are male. The spokesperson pointed out that this is higher than the industry average of 30 percent.
The company’s CEO also emphasized the consequences of the low rupee value, saying that practically everything—from the plane lease to parts and maintenance—is paid for in dollars. We can imagine that in such a situation, it’s important to save every rupee possible.
While the situation is certainly dire now, it seems like the company is at least creative enough to get through this tough patch. Just as long as they don’t try anything fishy like making the flight attendants wear “lighter” clothes.