Passengers of Thai Airways International (THAI) can expect to be served by younger female flight attendants as senior staff take up an unprecedented voluntary resignation package.

THAI is aiming to improve its appeal to customers while circumventing accusations of age and sex discrimination with a tempting ‘‘mutual separation plan’’ for female flight attendants aged 45 and over. Those who take up the carrier’s offer will receive up to 30 times their monthly salary in a lump sum.

The scheme is the first so-called “mutual separation plan” – or MSP – to be launched by THAI in its 50-year history and exclusively targets female flight attendants aged 45 and over.

The initiative, which has been backed by the airline's union, is part of the management's bid to rejuvenate THAI's brand image and save costs, while giving senior crew the chance to stay on or leave the firm, said THAI executives.

To avoid allegations of sex and age discrimination, THAI plans to make voluntary retirement highly appealing, with flight attendants who have served for 15 years being offered a lump-sum of up to 30 times their monthly salary.

THAI president Piyasvasti Amranand said the MSP would help the airline trim operating costs. Older THAI cabin attendants earn about 100,000 baht a month, while younger colleagues get about 30,000 baht.

THAI is believed to be among very few leading carriers in Asia in having very liberal employment terms for female cabin attendants, with no fixed period of service or age limit beyond the compulsory retirement age of 60.

The Thai carrier had originally followed the norms of the worldwide airline industry, hiring cabin attendants on contract terms and setting the age limit for operating on flights at 45. But union and political pressure in the 1990s, while Montree Pongpanit served as transport minister, succeeded in removing restrictions, enabling attendants to work on board until 60, provided they were willing and physically fit enough.

via THAI seeking a younger image.

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