Malaysia Airlines’ plans to revamp the sarong kebaya uniform worn by its cabin crew induced chatter online, with netizens showing an overwhelming amount of supporting the current uniform. According to media reports, the airline’s operators sent out a survey to its Enrich members gathering opinions on moving away from the kebaya to adding a “modest twist to the iconic kebaya”. Additionally, the survey also asked if female cabin crews should be given an option of donning a hijab on both international and domestic flights.
The email reportedly stated, “Moving into the new year, we would like to take this opportunity to refresh our uniforms once again, embracing more inclusivity while still maintaining our classic Malaysia Airlines elegance.” However, ST then learnt that the survey had been halted on Tuesday before the earlier closing date of end-January. A+M has reached out to Malaysian Airlines for a statement.
Since the news broke, social listening company CARMA said that an analysis of the limited social conversation shows that netizens are supportive of the current uniform.
In 2018, the topic of modesty was discussed in Malaysian Parliament. A video, by KiniTV, of Loke’s statement in response to MPs comments of the attires being “revealing” or sexy”, Loke told them to look away if they are uncomfortable with it. He went on to explain that airlines are free to make decisions regarding the cabin crew’s attires as long as they comply with standards set by the International Civil Association (ICAO) which would enable them to carry out their duties efficiently.
Most recently, British Airways also embraced a new look for its uniform, making it the first change in the airline’s uniform in nearly 20 years. What makes the revamped uniform inclusive is the tunic and hijab option that was designed for the global carrier’s employees. The inclusivity of the airline’s new uniform was praised by CEO of Bridging Cultures Group, which is a socially conscious organisation committed to addressing and dismantling stereotypes. CEO Debbie Almontaser thanked British Airways for its “bold move under the flagship of diversity, equity and inclusion.” She went on to add her opinion that companies’ ignorance towards two billion Muslim globally deters them from profiting from the demographic as it can be “lucrative” for them, if they considered their needs.
In 2021, Singapore Airlines also took to refreshing its Batik Motif on its uniform.
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