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UNIFORMS

Above: Etihad made the Milan catwalk with its Italian style uniform while (left) the scarlet Virgin girls are always a hit.

survey of 1,000 British business travellers, conducted by Business Travel and Meetings Show (BTMS) in February 2011, with the airline receiving a massive 53% of the votes. Middle East carriers also achieved highly in the poll, with Etihad Airways’ uniform, designed by Italian haute couture fashion designer Ettore Bilotta, taking third place behind Singapore Airlines with 12% of the votes, and Emirates Airlines taking fourth place with 11%. Etihad Airways has a strong relationship with the fashion world, as was displayed in September 2007 when it celebrated the launch of flights between Abu Dhabi and the fashion capital Milan with a catwalk show exhibiting Bilotta’s new winter 2007 collection. James Hogan, Etihad Airways’ chief executive, said at the time: “There has been tremendous excitement surrounding the start of Etihad’s new Milan service, so what better

way to mark this momentous occasion than to stage an Italian fashion show here in our homebase of Abu Dhabi.” Bilotta’s philosophy in designing the Etihad uniform was “to communicate the welcoming hospitable values of the Arabian culture in an international, cosmopolitan context, while at the same time designing for the comfort of the crew in the air and the airline’s ground staff”. While aesthetic considerations are obviously important for building and establishing an airline’s brand, many more aspects are taken into account when designing airline uniforms, including the safety and comfort of clothing. “Long skirts can restrict movement and are particularly dangerous when combined with high heels, which can become caught in hems. Ties, too, can be a safety hazard,” Stedman explained.

It is also essential that uniforms can be adapted to suit different environments. “This is vital when the conditions on the ground for staff can vary from Sao Paulo in Brazil through Newcastle in England to Hong Kong in Asia,” said Terry Daly, Emirates’ senior vice president, service delivery, when the airline introduced its new staff uniform in 2003.Ultimately, perhaps more so for the aviation industry than any other, staff uniforms must inspire confidence and communicate a responsible corporate image, so that passengers are assured that their safety is in good (perfectly-manicured) hands. “Figures of authority are traditionally identified by their uniforms,” Stedman told Arabian Aerospace. “This is particularly true of airlines and certainly in the current environment of heightened security we take assurance in being able to easily identify official figures by their clothing. “A uniform reinforces the expectation that staff are trained and competent professionals, providing additional assurances to customers that our trust is in safe hands. In the case of airline staff, this effect is multiplied, as our safety is entirely in their control.”

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The Cut of the Crew  
The Cut of the Crew  
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