Indian airline introduces women-only recruitment policy to cut weight and costs

Only slim women will be allowed to apply for jobs as flight attendants on one of India's main budget airlines - in an attempt to save on fuel costs.

GoAir said that airhostesses are on average 15-20kg (33-44lb) lighter than their male colleagues, meaning it won't cost as much to keep them in the air. Each kg of weight on the plane requires an extra 3 rupees (3.3p) worth of fuel, and the airline believes its new policy will save £3,300 a year.

Other drastic measures are being taken to shave off a few pounds. In-flight magazines are to be made smaller, and bottles of drinking water  - which were apparently never being finished - will only be filled up to 60 per cent capacity.

Giorgio De Roni, the chief executive of GoAir, told The Times of India that exchange rates were to blame for the controversial new recruitment scheme. 

He said: "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."

It's not all bad news for men in the profession, however - under its aggressive tactics for expansion, GoAir plans to introduce around 80 new aircraft in the next seven years, which will require 2,000 new flight attendants and pilots.

The gender restrictions will only affect new recruits - the airline's 130 current male cabin crew members will be allowed to keep their jobs.

Mr De Roni did not say whether the new policy would be extended to cover pilots in the future.

Budget aviation is a competitive market in India. GoAir's rivals AirAsia India announced today that they too would be expanding, adding an extra 10 aircraft a year.

AirAsia chief executive and Queens Park Rangers chairman Tony Fernandes said: "[The] game plan is very simple. We want to have the lowest fares, we want to improve connectivity within India. We think there are a lot of routes that are just not done."

As rising fuel prices mean airlines worldwide feel the pinch, GoAir's measures cannot be said to be the most extreme.

That prize surely goes to Samoa's "pay-as-you-weigh" system announced earlier this year.