Cathay Pacific Airways and Cathay Dragon will give all female uniformed staff the option of wearing trousers for the first time, marking a historic and progressive change for the more than 70-year-old Hong Kong carrier. Talks to end the skirt-only rule concluded successfully on Thursday with an understanding between Cathay Dragon and its cabin crew union, both sides said. Frontline staff of both airlines will benefit including airport ground staff.
Earlier this month, the flight attendants’ union for Cathay Dragon sparked a debate over that stipulation, with its public request for female crew to be given the right to wear trousers. Rebecca Sy, the union’s cabin crew chair for Cathay Dragon, confirmed the successful negotiations had taken place. “The company agrees to consider the option of a trouser uniform item for female crew. This will take place during the next uniform refresh,” the Hong Kong Dragon Airlines Flight Attendants Association said in a statement.
A spokesman for Cathay Pacific also said there had been an agreement. “We are pleased that we have reached an understanding on matters raised,” the airline said. “There is no progress without change. Now is the time to make this happen by working together to review the uniforms that accurately reflect the values we represent.” It added that it was “imperative” that staff not only feel pride in wearing the uniform of both airlines but “feel comfortable and empowered to carry out their duties to the best of their abilities”.
Winning more progressive rights comes as equal workplace treatment for women and an end to sexual harassment were put on the media agenda with the #MeToo movement, encouraging women to speak up about issues at work and in society at large. Attention is likely to turn to Hong Kong Airlines and Hong Kong Express, the two other local carriers, which stipulate female staff can only wear knee-high skirts. Both airlines have been contacted for comment.
Cathay Pacific and Cathay Dragon join the likes of South Korean firms Korean Air and Asiana Airlines, which are among the few airlines in Asia that give female flight attendants the option to wear trousers. Vietnamese budget carrier VietJet stands alone with its use of female crews to sell sexualised calendars featuring bikini-clad staff as part of an edgy branding image.