Vietnam’s low-cost airline Vietjet Air (Bikini Airline) is all set to commence a direct flight from Vietnam’s capital, Ho Chi Minh city, to New Delhi four days a week. The move will strengthen India-Vietnam ties, as there has never been any direct flight connecting the two countries. However, the news will grab eyeballs, for the airline — popularly known as the “bikini airline” — had run into controversies several times and its journey in India won’t be devoid of them.

Here are some interesting facts about the Vietjet Air (Bikini Airline)

Its claim to fame is sexism

Vietjet Air, whose tagline is “enjoy flying”, is Vietnam’s first private airline, which started its operations in 2011. It heavily banked on sexist marketing strategies. According to reports, it became the second-largest airline of the country within a short span with its aggressive and out-of-the-box marketing. Currently, the airline serves 23 domestic and 10 international destinations. It took the aviation industry by surprise after it decided to use bikini-clad models in its advertisements. However, they are only models, not flight attendants and many of them are not even Vietnamese. Also, the actual flight attendants do not wear bikinis all the time. The marketing gimmick worked and the flight from “Ao Dai” (traditional Vietnamese clothing) to bikini raked in a lot of moolah for the airline.

A year after it started its business, the airline started publishing an annual calendar in which scantily-clad models pose as flight attendants, pilots and ground staff. It received flak as many raised the question of whether the air hostesses’ attire mattered more to the passengers than safety and comfort.

Indonesia didn’t allow bikini-clad air hostesses

Last year, when airline announced its plan to connect to Jakarta, the Indonesian government made sure that the air hostesses were clad. The airlines abided and announced that their bikini stunts are not regular, only tailored for specific occasions and appropriate destinations.

Run by a woman entrepreneur

Airline was founded by Nguyen Thi Phuong Thao, who became the country’s first woman billionaire. She is also Vietnam’s second richest person. According to reports, she also has investments in HD Bank and real estate, including beach resorts.

Penalised for risking the safety

In a recent instance last year, Vietnam’s Under-23 men’s soccer team onboard a Vietjet’s flight was surprised to see scantily-clad women as cabin crew when they were returning from an Asian tournament in China, which they lost badly to the team from Uzbekistan. The airline was heavily criticized for it, and later the CEO of the company apologized on Facebook.

Besides creating headlines across the globe, the airline has been penalized by the Vietnamese authorities for its raunchy stunts. For instance, the civil aviation authority of Vietnam reportedly levied a fine of 40 million dong ($1,761) and fine the plane’s chief flight attendant 4 million dong for the last year’s instance. Before that, it was fined 20 million dong (about $1000) when it hosted a mid-flight Hawaiian-themed dance by bikini-clad women in 2012.

All publicity is good

The airline takes its negative publicity positively and believes that everyone has the right to wear what they like. It does not consider its marketing as sexist. “We are not upset when people associate us with the bikini image. If that makes people delighted and happy, then we’ll be happy,” Luu Duc Khanh, Airlines managing director, said to Reuters.

Market Value

Last year, the market value of Airline crossed that of the 62-year-old national carrier Vietnam Airlines, and that too, only a week after its listing on the bourses.

Vietnam’s low-cost ‘bikini airline’

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