Men need not apply

GoAir, a budget airline based in New Delhi has decided that from now on, it will hire only female cabin crew. The decision is purely financial: females, they say, weigh less than men and carrying less weight on planes chews up less fuel, reducing the airline’s operating costs. Assuming female attendants weigh an average 20 kg less than their male counterparts, this means an annual savings of 30 million rupees, or A$5.3 million.

Other measures to lighten aircraft and improve fuel efficiency include reducing the amount of water carried on board, using only one engine to taxi, and … wait for it … producing a smaller inflight magazine.

‘The rupee’s fall has hurt the industry badly. All major expenses — aircraft leasing, spare parts and fuel costs — are linked to the dollar. We are looking at every possible way of cost-cutting to remain profitable.’

said Giorgio De Roni, GoAir’s chief executive.

What’s wrong with this picture? For one thing, it seems to me that just as some women are taller than some men, some women weigh more than some men. Is GoAir going to hire overweight female cabin crew? So why not have a weight limit? Or would that discriminate against overweight people — not ok — while discriminating against men is ok?

For another thing, if India is similar to the rest of the world in respect to wages, female cabin crew may be paid less than male cabin crew. That might save GoAir even more money than the reduced fuel burn. Hmmmm…

Discussion questions

What do you think? Is there a good enough business case for hiring only women cabin crew? But let’s get serious: reducing operating costs is important in most organisations. So what could you (legally) do to tweak your operations to save money?